In South Africa Rand steady after cenbank holds rates; stocks weaker

At 1620 GMT the rand was about flat at 0.09 percent to 15.8850 per dollar, nearer the 16.00 psychological level it last hit on March 16 as the dollar gained.

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South African Rand coins are seen in this photo illustration taken September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings play South African Rand coins are seen in this photo illustration taken September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
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South Africa's rand retreated on Thursday after the central bank kept interest rates on hold, while stocks fell as the prices of commodities such as gold, silver and platinum slid on bets of a U.S. rate hike.

At 1620 GMT the rand was about flat at 0.09 percent to 15.8850 per dollar, nearer the 16.00 psychological level it last hit on March 16 as the dollar gained.

The currency was volatile, turning weaker after South Africa's Reserve Bank left its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 7 percent and expectations that the United States could raise rates as soon as next month.

South Africa's central bank said it faced a policy dilemma of high inflation and low growth.

Traders and economists said the bank's downbeat growth outlook and view that risks to inflation remained in play pressured the currency.

"We think that the Reserve Bank's decision to keep rates on hold at the May meeting was appropriate, but that the SA Reserve Bank will continue to increase interest rates in the second half of 2016," said Stanlib chief economist Kevin Lings.

Government bonds firmed after the local rates decision, with the benchmark paper due in 2026 shedding 8.5 basis points to 9.44 percent.

On the bourse, AngloGold Ashanti slipped 5 percent to 223.30 rand while Gold Fields shed 6 percent to 62.93 rand as gold fell more than 1 percent.

The benchmark Top-40 index fell 0.69 percent to 46,312 points while the broader All-share index lost 0.81 percent to 52,370 points.

Trade was relatively low with 218 million shares changing hands versus last year's daily average of 280 million shares.

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