File photo: Nadine Hutton.

Johannesburg - South Africa's rand was largely unchanged against the dollar early on Friday as renewed hopes of a rate hike in the US prevented the local unit threatening key resistance levels breached last week.

At 06h30 GMT the rand softened 0.08 percent to 11.9595 per dollar, with chances of the unit closing firmer than 12.00 against the dollar for a second consecutive week in doubt in the face of greenback's gains.

The rand has firmed 3.5 percent since last week's low of 12.2290 per dollar, according to Thomson Reuters data.

However, the unit has failed to hold on to gains towards the 11.80 resistance, opening it up to possible losses next week.

“The rand failed to comprehensively break 11.7500 and stay below there on a sustained basis,” said Oliver Alwar, a currency trader at Standard Bank. “We could see a test of 12.5250 year-to-date highs in the not too distant future.”

A smaller-than-expected rise in weekly jobless claims soothed some worries about US jobs growth, spurring the dollar to near three-week highs against a basket of major currencies.

Local government bonds were weaker in early trade, with the benchmark instrument due in 2026 adding 7 basis points to 7.705 percent.