File photo: Siphiwe Sibeko.

Johannesburg - South Africa's rand was firmer against the dollar on Tuesday, but market analysts said it could come under renewed pressure if US housing numbers supported the case for a rate hike in the world's biggest economy.

The stock market got off to a weak start, with the blue-chip JSE Top 40 index falling 0.69 percent to 47,403 while the broader All-share index was down 0.63 percent.

At 07h47 GMT, the rand was up 0.46 percent at 13.2220 against the dollar compared with its New York close on Monday.

Analysts, however, noted that the rand had failed to push through 13.0000 on Monday, and underperformed its emerging market peers, leaving it vulnerable to stronger than expected housing data from the United States.

“We expect the rand to weaken further on the back of heightened Fed rate hike fears,” Barclays Africa said in a note, referring to expectations that the US Federal Reserve could start policy tightening this year.

The rand has given up nearly 15 percent of its value against the greenback this year as investors anticipating higher US rates in 2015 dump emerging currencies. Some market players are however now pricing in the likelihood that the Fed could push out its hiking cycle to next year.

In fixed income, the yield for debt maturing in 2026 dipped 1 basis point to 8.185 percent.

Reuters