* Rand softer as c.bank buys FX
* Foreign buying boosts bonds
* Stocks fall, gold miners down after data
By Mmathabo Tladi and Phumza Macanda
JOHANNESBURG, July 14 South Africa's rand
softened against the dollar on Thursday, with dealers saying the
Reserve Bank came into the market to buy foreign exchange after
it rallied from 6-week lows.
After trading in positive territory for most of the day,
local stock indices turned negative as data showing gold output
fell in May weighed on gold stocks, sending the gold index
1 percent into the red.
A wave of strikes across industry, including the key mining
sector, also undermined investor confidence. But
the strikes' impact was offset by higher platinum prices that
boosted producers of the metal and helped to limit heavier
Government bonds bucked the trend, ending firmer as offshore
buyers came back, with spreads between local paper and U.S. debt
narrowing. The spread between the 10-year bond and similar-dated
U.S. benchmark was down 5.8 basis points while the 30-year
spread narrowed by 9 basis points.
Foreigners have increased their purchase of local debt in
the past two months, attracted by higher yields and prospects of
monetary policy remaining accommodative this year.
The yield on the 2015 bond was down four basis
points to 7.48 percent and that on the 2026 note fell
five basis points to 8.6 percent.
The rand was trading at 6.8628 to the dollar at
1605 GMT, 0.68 percent weaker than Wednesday's New York close of
6.8155. It was in the bottom two of worst performers among
emerging market currencies tracked by Reuters on the day. The
rand has recovered from 6-week lows of 6.9512 on Tuesday and hit
a session high of 6.7830 earlier.
"The rand has been an under performer today, with early
local selling ... the SARB (South African Reserve Bank) were
intervening in the FX market buying dollar/rand so this pushed
the rand lower and it never recovered," said Christopher
Shiells, emerging markets analyst at IGM.
The rand has seen a lot of support at 6.90 from exporters
selling dollars and will have to break that level decisively to
Shiells said the local currency was unlikely to weaken to
7.00/dollar over the next few days and the focus will turn to
next week's events, which include June's inflation numbers and
the Reserve Bank's Monetary Policy Committee meeting.
Bonds are likely to gain if the MPC strikes a dovish tone
and highlights worries about a slow recovery. Divided for now,
the market is looking for clearer signals of when the bank will
start raising rates and a dovish statement could prompt even
more players to push back forecasts for increases to next year.
On the bourse, the JSE Top-40 index of blue chips
down 0.37 percent to 28,847.47 and the broader All-Share index
falling 0.33 percent to 32,203.94.
The outlook for the mining sector has worsened in recent
weeks, with the strong rand, a slowdown in global demand as well
as infrastructure constraints hurting the sector. But for now,
strong metal prices were supporting platinum stocks in the
world's top producer of the precious metal.
Spot platinum rose as high as $1777.50 an ounce,
while the U.S. dollar slipped in early New York trade.
"The weaker dollar helped platinum prices," said Mitchell
Gannaway, a trader at Thebe Securities.
Anglo Platinum gained on the back of stronger
global prices for the metal, Northam Platinum rose 2.5
percent to 40.50 rand and Amplats went up 2.3 percent
to 612.52 rand.
Talk of nationalisation of mines from the youth wing of the
ruling ANC party is also likely to keep investors wary of heavy
investment in local miners.
(Editing by Ruth Pitchford)