Johannesburg - The rand firmed slightly against the dollar early on Thursday as investor sentiment towards emerging markets improved but the currency held within recent ranges ahead of a slew of domestic data later in the session.

Emerging markets have taken a hit during a bout of risk aversion as investors worry about growth in China and political tension in Ukraine and Turkey.

However dealers said the selling was overdone and those currencies were now in a relief rally.

At 08:34 SA time, the rand was at 10.7850 to the dollar, slightly firmer than its 10.8005 close in New York on Wednesday.

“Global sentiment towards risk assets switched aggressively overnight and gains have continued this morning, with strong rises in Asian Markets,” John Cairns, currency strategist at Rand Merchant Bank, said in a note.

Yields on government bonds were down 2.5 basis points at 8.57 percent on the benchmark 2026 bond and 2 basis points to 7.04 percent on the 2015 note.

Investors will be watching for two sets of January production data from the South African statistics agency, with mining output data due at 11:30 SA time and manufacturing at 13:00 SA time.

A Reuters poll sees lower output for both sectors.

Central bank governor Gill Marcus will speak at a regional central banking event at around 18:00 SA time. - Reuters