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JOHANNESBURG - The rand steadied yesterday, holding on to gains notched up in the previous session as a benign US jobs report eased worries about inflation and faster rate hikes.

At 5pm, the rand bid at R11.8198 to the dollar, not far off its New York close of R11.82 on Friday.

The currency has largely stayed at elevated levels this year, buoyed by expectations of faster economic growth under new political leadership.

“The rand has continued to benefit from favourable sentiment in the overall emerging market sphere, but remains vulnerable to shifts in expectations regarding the pace of US monetary policy tightening,” NKC African Economics said in a note.

On the bourse, Tiger Brands slumped 2.57percent to R358.47 after a human rights lawyer said at the weekend he was preparing a class action lawsuit against the food producer, linked to a deadly listeria outbreak.

Overall, the blue chip JSE Top40 index gained 0.18percent to 52440.89 points and the broader all share index inched up 0.04percent to 59194.45 points.

In fixed income, government bonds were a touch firmer with the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 down one basis point to 8.065percent.

Meanwhile, emerging market stocks rallied to two-week highs yesterday as a US jobs report eased worries about inflation and faster rate increases, while fears of a trade war have been tempered by the possibility of exemptions from US tariffs for some exporters.

MSCI’s benchmark emerging equities index leapt 1.2percent, following developed markets higher after Friday’s US payrolls data showed rising employment but muted wage growth following a spike in January.

Some of the biggest gains came in Asian equities, where Hong Kong and Indian stocks soared 1.9percent and Taiwan shares gained 1.2percent.

Emerging Europe also rallied, with Turkish stocks up 1.5percent and Hungary up almost 1percent.

The latest US jobs data cooled expectations for the number of rate hikes from the Federal Reserve this year, alleviating potential concerns over pressure on global borrowing costs while currency moves were modest.

US 10-year Treasury yields hovered broadly unchanged yesterday.