File picture: Philimon Bulawayo

JOHANNESBURG - The Rand firmed yesterday, regaining ground after tumbling to its weakest in six months as the weaker dollar overshadowed data showing shrinking private sector activity at home.

At 5pm, the rand was bid at R13.5835 to the dollar, 10.07c stronger than at the same time on Tuesday.

The dollar index stepped back from a one-and-half-month high, relieving pressure on the rand that had seen the currency sell off sharply in the past week and eventually sink to R13.77 in the previous session, its weakest level since April10.

South African private sector activity shrank at the fastest rate in 17 months in September as output, new orders and employment declined, a survey showed.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 was down.

On the stock market, the benchmark JSE Top40 index was up 0.8percent at 50542.41 points, while the broader all share index advanced 0.7percent to end the session at 56750.03 points.

Shoprite was one of the biggest climbers, up 3.18percent at R209.38, as Morgan Stanley raised its target price for Africa’s largest grocer to R219.

On the downside, mobile operator Vodacom dropped 3.22percent to R151.36 after the anti-trust watchdog said it was investigation the company for abuse of market dominance in securing an exclusive contract with the government.

Meanwhile, an index of global stocks edged up to a fresh intra-day high yesterday, helped by signs of strong economic growth worldwide, while the dollar pared losses on data showing the US service sector accelerated in September to its fastest in 12years.

- REUTERS