Johannesburg - South Africa's rand ticked higher against the dollar on Tuesday and was expected to circle around current levels for much of the day ahead of new US Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen's speech to Congress.

The market would also keep an eye on unemployment and factory output data for clues on whether the local central bank might increase interest rates further this year after a surprise 50 basis point hike last month to rein in inflation.

By 08:37 SA time the rand was 0.14 percent firmer at 11.1245 to the rand compared with its Monday close.

“Dollar/rand is languishing, last week's downside tests below 11.00 are now forgotten, but with no real upside pressures either,” said Rand Merchant Bank analyst John Cairns in a note.

“After trading in the 11-teens for most of yesterday, expect modest downside this morning - with dips to 11.06/08 - thanks to dollar weakness and as local markets play catch-up to overnight moves.”

Government bonds tracked the currency higher, pulling the yield for the benchmark 2026 paper 1 basis point lower to 8.755 percent. The 2015 bond bond shaved off 2 basis points to 7.115 percent. - Reuters