Johannesburg - South Africa's rand softened against the dollar on Wednesday despite a generally risk-positive global environment, weighed down by weak retail sales data that undermined the case for a domestic rate hike this month.

Investors are also keeping a nervous eye on the four-month old wage strike in the platinum mining sector, after the government vowed to crack down on violence linked to the boycott and to arrest those intimidating miners trying to return to work.

At 17:27 SA time, the rand traded at 10.3290 to the dollar, down 0.24 percent from Tuesday's New York close.

The rand had earlier touched a session low of 10.3620 after Statistics South Africa said retail sales grew by a lower-than-expected 1 percent year-on-year in March, compared with 2.3 percent in February.

The report adds to recent economic data suggesting the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) might hold off hiking interest rates this month, despite inflation hovering at the top of a 3-6 percent target band.

“For a market assessing the likelihood of imminent SARB tightening ... the weak retail sales print will serve as a timely reminder of the ongoing bearish news on the real economy,” said Standard Chartered's head of Africa research, Razia Khan.

Government bonds held their ground on Wednesday, with the yield for the 2026 secondary market benchmark shaving off 6 basis points to 8.035 percent.

The 2015 paper at the shorter end of the curve fell 2.5 basis points to 6.51 percent. - Reuters