JOHANNESBURG: South Africa's rand held steady against the dollar in early trade on Friday but was set to end 2011 as one of the worst-performing currencies of the year, suffering a whiplash reaction from investors spooked by Europe's debt crisis.
The rand was at 8.17 to the dollar at 0640 GMT, not far off its 8.1816 close in New York on Thursday.
The currency opened 2011 at 6.57 against the dollar, but has since lost nearly 19 percent in value and stands neck and neck with Turkey's lira as the poorest emerging market performer.
"Emerging markets have suffered because of outside influences this year," said Jim Bryson, a trader at Rand Merchant Bank.
"Left to our own devices with the strong commodities and everything else the rand would have had a reasonable year. There's just been so much going on with Europe that the emerging markets haven't been the main focus,"
The currency tested the 8.10 resistance area on Wednesday but has since retreated as Europe's festering debt crisis has kept from buying riskier assets.
"I expect more of the same today. We've been very range trading this week as the year limps to an end," Bryson said.
The bond market has been very quiet this week with yields barely moving in an illiquid market that has closed at 1000 GMT for the past two weeks.
The yield on the benchmark 2015 bond dropped 1 basis point to 6.75 percent while the 2026 issue edged down by the same margin to 8.51 percent.
South African markets, including the central bank, will officially close at 1000 GMT.