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JOHANNESBURG: South Africa's rand strengthened on Wednesday alongside emerging market currencies on hopes of more stimulus for China's slowing economy, but local stocks dipped after data showing another weak month for retail sales.

At 1530 GMT, the rand traded at 14.1850 to the dollar, 0.5 percent stronger than its New York overnight close.

China, South Africa's biggest trading partner, reported unexpectedly low retail sales, suggesting that consumers were distressed about US-China trade talks.

Beijing typically responds rapidly to signs of economic weakness.

South African retail sales were 0.2 percent stronger year-on-year in March, data showed on Wednesday, highlighting lingering economic weakness ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa's highly anticipated cabinet announcement.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026, fell 7 basis points to 8.420 percent.

On the Johannesburg bourse, the All-Share index was down 0.34 percent to 56,043 points, while blue chips on the Top-40 index fell 0.4 percent to 49,877 points.

The biggest faller on the Top-40 index was private healthcare provider Netcare, which fell for a second straight session to trade down 3.51 percent after warning its hospital margins would fall.

Among other decliners retailer Mr Price weakened 2.7 percent to 205.31 rand, while Tiger Brands fell 1.81 percent to 253.33 rand.

"The market is waiting for direction on two things: the US-China trade war and what President Cyril Ramaphosa is going to do with his cabinet," FNB portfolio manager Wayne McCurrie said, explaining Wednesday's fall in stocks.

Copyright Reuters, 2019