Johannesburg - South Africa's rand held steady against the dollar early on Monday, opening the week still supported by a soft greenback environment but likely to trade sideways ahead of key trade data.

At 08:35 SA time, the rand was up at 10.5845 to the dollar, just slightly firmer than a 10.5900 close in New York on Friday.

It has hit a session high of 10.5775 so far and with the dollar still pressured by weak economic US data last week, the rand has some scope to trade firmer.

“Dollar/rand still range-bound and faces two-way risks but starts at 10.57, with a downside bias for yet another test of the 10.54/56 key support level,” John Cairns, a forex strategist for Rand Merchant Bank said in a market note.

Investors are bracing for trade numbers from May, data that is usually a sore point for the rand as it highlights South Africa's vulnerable external trade position.

“Recent numbers have been shockingly bad and we are still waiting to see the effects of the platinum strike on the numbers,” Cairns said.

Economists have forecast a 12.5 billion rand trade gap in May, partly because a recently-resolved 5-month strike in the platinum mines should have hit commodity exports.

Also keeping rand bulls uncertain is the expected start of a strike by more than 220,000 members of the NUMSA engineering and metalworkers union on Tuesday.

Yields on government bonds were flat at 8.325 percent on the 2026 issue and at 6.705 percent on the 2015 note .

The National Treasury will in the afternoon release the government's spending and revenue figures up to the end of May. - Reuters