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JOHANNESBURG - The rand firmed on Friday after US jobs data pointed to slower wage growth, which could temper expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise its forecast for how many times it hikes interest rates this year.

The rand has been in the sway of overseas trends this week in the absence of domestic drivers, with the impact of a potential global trade war front and centre following US President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

At 5pm, the rand bid at R11.8113 to the dollar, 9.84cents firmer than at the same time on Thursday, having traded at around R11.90 before US non-farm payrolls came out.

While the data showed slower wage growth, it also pointed to the biggest increase in US jobs in more than one-and-a-half years in February, a mixed bag which meant trading in the dollar was volatile.

“It’s been a day of dichotomies,” said Andre Botha, a currency dealer at TreasuryOne.

“Slower wage growth drove the rand sharply higher initially,” Botha added.

Botha said local traders also took mixed messages from the imposition of the US metals tariffs and the news that Trump was ready to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which could herald a breakthrough in the stand-off over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

The rand has been hurt by the tariff plan which has hit the prices of precious and industrial metals such as gold, platinum and iron ore, of which South Africa is a major producer.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 fell 1.5 basis points to 8.08percent.

Meanwhile, stocks also extended gains on the US jobs data, with the benchmark JSE Top40 index adding 0.56percent to 52348.57 points and the wider all share index adding 0.41percent to 59169.23 points.

Among the top movers, Sappi gained 3.51percent to R83.15, Mediclinic advanced 2.85percent to R101, Aspen Pharmacare climbed 2.7percent to R268.77 and Naspers closed 2.57percent higher at R3546.98.

The decliners list included FirstRand, down 4.45percent at R66.42, RMB Holdings, which retreated 4.09percent to R80.20 and MTN Group, which ended the session 2.21percent lower at R132.01.