JOHANNESBURG: South Africa's rand gained early on Monday on reports of progress in trade talks between China and the United States on the year's last day of trading.

* At 0715 GMT the rand traded at 14.3650 per dollar, up 0.42 percent from its close of 14.4250 on Friday.

* Dollar moves were driven mainly by U.S. politics and the tariff war between Beijing and Washington remained the key catalysts for the rand and other emerging-market currencies, with investors cautious in thin-volume trade.

* The trade war between the world's top two economies has unnerved financial markets and had a mixed impact on the rand, which has lately benefited from signs of a thaw in hostilities between the two superpowers.

* On Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump said a possible trade deal between the United States and China was progressing well, creating some demand for high-yield assets like the rand, which had lost ground to safe-haven assets at the end of the previous week.

* For the year, the rand is down nearly 15 percent, making it the fourth worst performer against the dollar, behind the Argentine peso, Turkey's lira, and the Russian rouble.

* Bonds opened firmer, with the yield on the benchmark paper due in 2026 3 basis points lower at 8.865 percent.

* Stocks opened higher, with Johannesburg Stock Exchange's (JSE) Top-40 index up 0.58 percent to 46,765 points.

Copyright Reuters, 2018