File image: AP

Johannesburg - South Africa's rand was steady against the dollar early on Thursday as risk appetite subsided and traders awaited U.S. employment data on Friday that is expected to give guidance on interest rates move.

At 0645 GMT, the rand traded at 15.5600 versus the dollar, largely unchanged from Wednesday's New York close of 15.5580.

Upbeat US economic data and a rally in a range of commodities dampened risk appetites globally, while traders were cautious ahead of US unemployment numbers on Friday.

“Tomorrow's data is going to provide a lot of insight into the Federal Reserve's next move, in conjunction with the US. CPI data that is,” Standard Bank trader Warrick Butler said.

Growth in US employment would strengthen the case for the Federal Reserve to up the tempo on its heightening cycle, which traditionally has triggered an outflow of investments from emerging markets.

Stocks were set to open higher at 0700 GMT, with the JSE securities exchange's Top-40 futures index up 0.62 percent.

Shares in South Africa's MTN Group were likely to react to news that it has set aside around $600 million to cover the potential settlement of a fine in Nigeria as it posted a more than 50 percent drop in annual profit.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark instrument due in 2026 was down 2.5 basis points to 9.33 percent.