Johannesburg - South Africa's rand rallied more than 1.2 percent against the dollar to its strongest in more than four months on Thursday, riding on general buoyancy in emerging markets and amid relief at a smooth national election.

The ruling ANC party swept toward victory in the poll, giving President Jacob Zuma the political muscle to push through pro-business reforms in the face of opposition from unions and leftists whose populist rhetoric has unsettled investors.

At 17:52 SA time, the rand was trading 1.29 percent firmer at 10.3205 against the greenback, not far off its session high of 10.3200.

The local unit last traded at these levels in late December.

Government bonds followed suit, with the yield for the 2026 benchmark sliding 20.5 basis points to 8.135 percent.

The shorter-dated 2015 issue closed 15.5 basis points lower at 6.53 percent.

“In general, we have started to see a much better platform for risk trades unfold,” ETM market analyst Sean McCalgan said.

The rand was largely unfazed by data showing growth in South Africa's manufacturing output slowed to 0.7 percent year-on-year in March from 1.5 percent in February, undermining the case for more interest rate hikes this year. - Reuters