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CAPE TOWN - The rand weakened slightly as traders juggled upbeat US economic data with a South African court decision to reject calls to shift the central bank’s policy focus.

At 5pm, the rand was bid at R13.3308 to the dollar, 3.76c softer than at the same time on Monday, not far from an overnight close of R13.3225, as the greenback rallied on US retail sales data which showed their largest gain in seven months.

But there was some support for the rand after High Court judge John Murphy dismissed a June proposal by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to change the central bank’s monetary policy target, saying it lacked merit and setting it aside.

Mkhwebane’s proposal had sparked a political row and a sharp sell-off of the rand when she put it forward and its dismissal on Monday eased pressure on the currency, which has been trading at premium due to heightened fears about political turbulence.

Traders said that with a subsiding of political noise and a thin economic calendar, the rand would find its direction from offshore events and a return of global liquidity.

Meanwhile, on the stock market, shares eased with mining companies under pressure as the price of gold slipped.

The JSE Top40 index was off 0.92% at 48655.12 points and the broader all share index fell 0.87% at 54983.32 points.

Gold Fields lost 2.72% to R52.67 and AngloGold Ashanti dropped 2.25% to R129.80.

Gold fell sharply for a second day after the better-than-expected US economic data and easing tensions over North Korea encouraged investors to buy riskier assets.

-BUSINESS REPORT