Johannesburg - South Africa's rand steadied against the dollar early on Wednesday with investors wary of taking strong positions before inflation data and the Federal Reserve's interest rate meeting.

The rand tracked the sideways move on euro/dollar to trade at 10.7455 to the dollar by 08:33 SA time, little changed from Tuesday's close in New York at 10.7395.

South Africa is releasing keenly awaited February consumer inflation data at 10:00 SA time, which will give clues about interest rates ahead of the Reserve Bank's three-day monetary policy meeting next week.

The SARB will announce its repo rate decision on March 27.

Traders have moderated their views of steep policy tightening after Governor Gill Marcus said last week expectations were overdone.

Economists polled by Reuters expect inflation to have quickened in February to 5.9 percent year-on-year, as price pressures from a weaker rand push CPI to the top of the central bank's 3-6 percent target band.

Government bond yields, slightly higher at 8.61 percent on the benchmark 2026 issue, are likely to rise further if CPI comes in higher than expected.

Statistics South Africa will also release retail sales data for January in the session.

The market expects sales growth to have slowed to 2.9 percent year-on-year, from 3.5 percent in December as consumers battle with high levels of debt and tighter lending.

Retails sales numbers are due at 13:00 SA time.

However the local market has been tracking global markets in the last few weeks and the Federal Reserve announces it decision on interest rates later on Wednesday, which could blunt the impact of local data. - Reuters