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CAPE TOWN - The rand gave up gains as traders booked profits after the currency rallied overnight on diminishing bets of a US interest rate increase and higher gold prices.

However, at 5pm, the rand was bid at R13.1832 to the dollar, 3.64c stronger than at the same time on Wednesday. It had closed at R13.1775.

Minutes from the last US Federal Reserve meeting showed some members favoured a halt to rate hikes until the inflation trajectory was clear.

The news saw most emerging market currencies strengthen, with buying of commodity currencies also supported by higher gold prices.

The rand rallied overnight to reach R13.13, its firmest since August 8, and was on the front foot for most of the session before stumbling lower as traders booked profits ahead of the weekend.

Meanwhile, on the stock market, shares eased with banks under pressure as investors booked profits.

The benchmark JSE Top40 index was off 0.3% at 49065.81 points and the broader all share index finished 0.21% lower at 55415.27 points.

Barclays Africa Group lost 1.2% to R147.89, while Nedbank dropped 1.1% to R225 and Standard Bank was down 1.06% to R162.13.

“The banks just had a very good run and are looking a little over-bought in the short-term as a result we’re seeing a bit of profit taking,” said BP Bernstein trader, Vasili Girasis.

Richemont, the luxury goods maker, was down 0.58% to R112.93 while British American Tobacco retreated 0.45% to end the session at R823.

-BUSINESS REPORT