JOHANNESBURG: The South African rand was stronger in early trading on Thursday, as investors focused on key US inflation data for hints on the future interest rate path of the world’s biggest economy.

At 0753 GMT, the rand traded at 18.0650 against the dollar , around 0.3% stronger than its previous close.

“Ahead of both local and US data today, look for ranges to continue,” said Rand Merchant Bank analysts in a research note.

Markets will focus on inflation data out of the US on Thursday for clues on the Federal Reserve’s future interest rate path.

US inflation has been improving in recent months and earlier this week Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that “more good data would strengthen” the case for central bank interest rate cuts.

“Bets on a September rate cut have climbed to 75% as the Fed walks a tightrope between keeping rates higher for longer at the risk of pushing the economy into a recession,” said Andre Cilliers, currency strategist at TreasuryONE.

The rand often takes cues from global drivers like US monetary policy in addition to local data points. Locally, Statistics South Africa will publish May’s mining data at around 0930 GMT and manufacturing data at around 1100 GMT.

South African rand gains on weaker dollar, focus on Fed rate path

On the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the blue-chip Top-40 index last traded around 0.5% stronger in early trade.

South Africa’s benchmark 2030 government bond was slightly stronger in early deals, with the yield down 1 basis point to 9.715%.

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