File picture: Philimon Bulawayo

Johannesburg - South Africa's rand traded weaker early on Monday as credit downgrades to "junk" by two ratings firms last week following the sudden firing of the finance minister continued to weigh.

Traders saw the unit slipping further in the week.

At 0645 GMT, the rand had weakened 0.56 percent to 13.8500 per dollar following a close at 13.7725 on Friday in New York.

The rand has fallen more than 11 percent since March 27, when President Jacob Zuma recalled Pravin Gordhan from an investor roadshow to Britain and the United States then fired him as finance minister.

Fitch on Friday followed S&P Global Ratings and downgraded South Africa to "junk", citing Gordhan's dismissal as one reason.

Local assets are increasingly losing out to emerging market peers like Russia.

Stocks set to open higher at 0700 GMT, with the JSE securities exchange's Top-40 futures index up 0.5 percent.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 up 6.5 basis points to 8.995 percent.