SASOL:  46,704   -737 (-1.55%)  18/04/2019 00:00

South Africa's rand firmer, focus on U.S.-China trade talks

* Rand down 10 percent so far in August

* Global risk sentiment affecting currency moves

* Stocks up as Naspers gains (Updates prices)

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 20 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand firmed in afternoon trade on Monday, with the market focused on proposed trade talks between the United States and China this week that investors hope will ease tensions between the world's two biggest economies.

At 1511 GMT, the rand traded at 14.5900 per dollar, 0.3 percent firmer than its Friday's close of 14.6400.

Anticipated talks between Chinese and U.S. officials in Washington to discuss trade will take place in the next few days, according to media reports. Analysts say those attending will be lower-level officials, although hopes are high that the talks may yield a breakthrough in the months-long trade spat.

The rand is down 10 percent this month after being rattled by turmoil on Turkish financial markets, which triggered a broad emerging market sell-off.

Domestic concerns such as the weak economic outlook and uncertainty over land redistribution reforms have also weighed on sentiment.

"Near-term challenges persist, but we see the ZAR firming in the longer run," Tilmann Kolb, an analyst in the Chief Investment Office of UBS Wealth Management, said in a note.

"Receding worries about emerging countries and trade disputes may boost sentiment again, benefiting the rand. Longer term, reform implementation disappointments jeopardize our benign view."

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark instrument due in 2026 ended flat at 9.035 percent.

On the bourse, closed higher as market heavyweight Naspers buoyed the gains.

The Johannesburg All-share index closed 0.88 percent stronger at 57,145 points, while the blue-chip top 40 index climbed 0.99 percent to 51,101 points.

Naspers gained 2.14 percent to 3253.75 rand after Chinese technology giant Tencent rose over 4 percent in Hong Kong trade.

South African Petrochemicals group Sasol fell 1.04 percent to 523.00 rand after it reported a 6 percent drop in full-year profit, pulled down by production interruptions, employee share-based payment expenses and other one-off items. (Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Nomvelo Chalumbira Editing by Alison Williams)

2018-08-20 18:01:58

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