File photo: Reuters

Johannesburg - The rand steadied against the dollar early on Friday, holding near two-month highs before US jobs data that is expected to be the key market driver in the session.

Trade was expected to be jittery as investors brace for non-farm payrolls data at 13h30 GMT. A weaker-than-expected number could be the impetus that drives the rand towards a key resistance level at 10.50.

At 06h45 GMT, the rand was at 10.6180 to the dollar, just slightly weaker than its close in New York on Thursday but near a two-month high of 10.5885.

“The mood is a little more cautious this morning as the market awaits this afternoon's US non-farm payroll number. Dollar/rand is now around 10.60, needing to break 10.57 to keep the momentum going,' said John Cairns of Rand Merchant Bank in a note.

A strong euro/dollar on Thursday helped the rand to shrug off a power crisis in Africa's largest economy, where state utility Eskom imposed rolling blackouts for the first time since 2008.

Eskom said on Friday the power supply remained “constrained but stable” as wet weather has soaked coal supplies that Eskom generates its electricity from.

The reserve bank released data showing net gold and foreign exchange reserves were slightly higher in February.

Government bonds held steady at 8.455 percent on the benchmark 2026 yield and at 6.94 percent on the 2015 note.

The National Treasury will auction R800 million of 2025, 2038 and 2050 paper at 09h00 GMT.

Dealers expect that past demand for inflation-linked paper will see decent bids at the auction, with yields clearing at market levels or slightly stronger. - Reuters