Johannesburg - South Africa's rand steadied near the weaker end of a recent range against the dollar on Monday, opening the week on the backfoot as investors worried about Ukraine/Russia tensions and weakness in the local economy.
The rand was at 10.6715 against the dollar at 08:22 SA time, slightly weaker than its close of 10.6670 in New York on Friday.
With US markets closed for a holiday on Monday, the rand was expected to trade within last week's range unless the crisis in Ukraine escalated further, which would likely encourage rand bears.
US lawmakers on Sunday urged Washington to arm the Ukrainian government, saying it needed help to repel what they called Russia's invasion of the country, while Russian President Vladimir Putin called for immediate talks on the “statehood” of southern and eastern Ukraine.
The rand was also dogged by worse-than-expected trade data on Friday, which highlighted the South African economy's external vulnerabilities.
Government bonds traded weaker on Monday, with yields up 3 basis points at 8.015 percent on the benchmark 2026 issue and at 6.64 percent on the 2015 note.
Locally investors will watch for the release of vehicle sales data for August later in the session, numbers that are likely to confirm that South African consumers are struggling with high interest rates and inflation along with joblessness and piles of debt.
Mid-week sees the release of the business confidence index and a survey of business conditions from purchasing managers in Africa's most advanced economy.
The week ends with the central bank releasing reserves data.
In overseas markets, the European Central Bank holds a monetary policy meeting on Thursday. - Reuters