May 26, 2017 / 7:06 AM / 2 months ago

South Africa's rand firm as central bank keeps interest rates on hold

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JOHANNESBURG, May 26 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand inched up in early trade on Friday after the Reserve Bank kept rates on hold, and despite a less dovish than expected policy statement from the central bank as well as a global retreat in other commodity-dependent currencies.

* At 0640 GMT, the rand had firmed 0.14 percent to 12.9075 per dollar, slightly off 2-month high touched early in previous session, following an overnight close of 12.9250.

* Commodity currencies remained wobbly as oil prices extended falls after tumbling on Thursday, when OPEC and allied producers extended output cuts but disappointed investors betting on longer or larger supply curbs.

* South Africa's central bank on Thursday kept interest rates steady, playing down prospects of cheaper borrowing costs as it weighed price pressures against expectations that the struggling economy will recover more slowly than hoped.

* South African Reserve Bank (SARB) governor Lesetja Kganyago said the longer-term inflation trajectory was "uncomfortably close to the upper end" of the bank's target range of 3-6 percent.

* "The SARB MPC was a little disappointing to those looking for signals on a rate cut," said currency strategist at Rand Merchant Bank John Cairns in a note.

* Stocks were set to open lower at 0700 GMT, with the JSE securities exchange's Top-40 futures index down 0.2 percent.

* In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 inched up 0.5 basis points to 8.515 percent. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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