Rand set to end 2015 over 35% weaker

Johannesburg - The rand firmed up on Thursday after falling sharply overnight as the dollar extended gains on the back of a slide in global oil prices.

By 06:45 GMT the rand had risen 0.1% to 15.5400/$, clawing back some ground after shedding more than 1% to two-and-a-half week lows in the previous session.

Government bonds were flat in early trade, with the benchmark 2026 issue at 9.685%.

The rand is on track to end 2015 more than 35% weaker against the dollar, with Africa's most advanced economy battered by severe electricity shortages, drought and the shock removal of the finance minister in the past 12 months.

Reserve  Bank data on Thursday showed private sector demand for credit quickened to 9.53% year-on-year in November, while M3 money supply slowed.

On Wednesday data showed South Africa recording a small trade surplus, R1.77bn, in November following a R21.6bn rand deficit in the previous month.

The positive glimmer in the data was however not enough to shield the currency from a rampant dollar, which strode to new highs against a number of currencies as declining oil prices weighed on oil-dependent economies.

The rand is likely to trade in a narrow range for most of the session with markets around the world winding down ahead of the New Year's Day long weekend.

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