February 5, 2019 / 3:35 PM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-South African rand steady before Trump State of the Union address, stocks up

(Updates prices)

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 5 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand steadied against the dollar in late afternoon trade on Tuesday as traders awaited U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address which could hint at progress in U.S.-China trade talks.

At 1527 GMT, the rand was at 13.4300 per dollar, not far off its close of 13.4200 on Monday.

The currency had earlier in the day touched a session best of 13.3400, as hopes for progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute fuelled a recovery in investors’ appetite for risk taking, before giving up the gains in late trade.

After racing to a six-month high of 13.2350 last Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve’s caution boosted risk appetite, the rand has since eased as investors locked in gains and awaited the next driving force on the index.

“With no major local economic data releases scheduled for the next couple of days, we expect the local currency to remain rangebound,” said Jee-A van der Linde, an economist at NKC African Economics.

“Markets will turn to politics for direction,” he added.

Investors shifted their focus to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address at 0200 GMT on Wednesday.

South African focused investors are also waiting for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address on Thursday, where he is expected to give an update on the economy and plans to shore up cash-strapped state companies.

Government bonds closed firmer, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year bond down 5 basis points to 8.59 percent.

Stocks recovered after a difficult trading period on Monday, with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s Top-40 index up 1.73 percent to 47,999 points, and the broader all-share index up 1.53 percent to 54,209 points.

The consumer-facing firms that stocked the bottom of the index on Monday also rebounded, aside from Standard Bank , which was the only faller on the blue-chip index, down 0.79 percent.

The all-share index was led upwards by paper and plastics packaging maker Mpact, which issued a trading statement predicting significantly higher underlying earnings per share for the year to Dec. 2018, lifting its shares by over 12 percent. (Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Emma Rumney; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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