Johannesburg - South Africa's rand held steady against the dollar early on Wednesday but looked vulnerable as investors prepared for domestic trade data due later in the session.

The rand achieved a week high in the previous session as emerging markets got a reprieve from Ukraine-related selling, but early on Wednesday investors were worrying about South Africa's trade account, a weak spot for the rand.

March trade numbers are due at 14:00 SA time.

Economists expect the account to have swung back into deficit in March from a 1.72 billion rand ($163 million) surplus in February.

“Export growth has been improving on last year's numbers, yet recovery will be dependent on recovery in the global economy and external demand, particularly with mining exports to Asia, where there continues to be a clear weakness,” said Anisha Arora, emerging market analyst at 4Cast.

The rand traded at 10.5725 to the dollar at 08:48 SA time, slightly weaker than a 10.5550 close in New York on Tuesday.

“We look for only a very gradual narrowing of monthly deficits this year after the 2013 cumulative balance posted the widest deficit on record,” Arora added.

Yields on South African government bonds were flat, at 6.81 percent on the 2015 note and 8.475 percent on the 2026 issue.

The National Treasury will announce next week's issuance plans at 11:00 SA time, and release the government's budget balance up to March around 14:00 SA time.

This is the last figure to close off the 2013/14 fiscal year, for which Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has estimated a shortfall of 4 percent of gross domestic product on the national budget. - Reuters