FILE PHOTO: South African Rand coins are seen in this photo illustration

The Rand weakened yesterday after poor employment figures, with traders also cautious as they waited to see if US Federal Reserve chairperson Janet Yellen would stick to her positive economic outlook at an event later.

At 5.40pm, the rand traded at R12.96 to the dollar, 0.74 percent weaker than its New York close on Monday.

Employment in South Africa’s non-agriculture sector fell by 0.5percent to 9.64million people in the first quarter of 2017, compared with the previous three months.

“The employment data is fairly correlated with what we have seen with the rand weakening,” said IG South Africa senior market analyst, Shaun Murison.

“We have had a lot of central bankers speaking today (yesterday) and Janet Yellen who’s set to address markets after they close, so these could be some of little catalysts for movements on the rand.”

Traders expected Yellen to maintain her positive outlook on the US economy despite the recent weak data, reinforcing the central bank’s plan to raise rates once more this year and three times next year.

Meanwhile, stocks posted modest gains, led by gold mining shares after the bullion price recovered from a six-week low hit the previous session.

The benchmark JSE Top40 index was up 0.39percent at 45288.38 points and the broader all share index rose 0.28percent to 51432.24 points.

The gold miners featured on the gainers’ list on the benchmark index. Gold Fields climbed 2.86percent to R46.72 and Harmony Gold rose by 2.55percent to R21.70.

On the flipside, Omnia Holdings tumbled 8.61percent to close at R132.50.