* Rand dampened by dollar boost
* Stocks higher on global markets rally
* (Adds trader comment; Updates figures)
JOHANNESBURG, July 18 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand was slightly weaker on Wednesday despite better-than-anticipated inflation and retail sales figures, as the dollar reached two-week highs.
At 1500 GMT the rand was trading 0.09 percent weaker to the dollar at 13.2775.
South Africa’s headline consumer inflation quickened, although less than expected, to 4.6 percent year-on-year in June from 4.4 percent in May, while retail sales rose 1.9 percent in May after increasing by 0.5 percent in April, data showed.
The dollar was boosted by traders responding positively to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s assurance of steady U.S. growth.
Powell told congress on Tuesday that he believed the United States was on course for years more of steady growth, and he played down the risks to the U.S. economy of an escalating trade conflict.
“The comments by the Fed chairman caused major currencies to depreciate against the dollar, and the rand and other emerging markets followed,” said chief currency dealer at TreasuryOne, Wichard Cilliers.
“It is going to be a struggle for emerging markets and the rand to gain any further momentum with the dollar being where it is at the moment,” he said.
South Africa’s Reserve Bank will announce its interest rate decision on Thursday and is expected to leave rates unchanged at 6.5 percent.
In fixed income, bonds were flat with the yield on the benchmark issue due in 2026 up 0.1 basis point to 8.68 percent.
On the bourse, stocks closed higher for a second straight session in line with global markets which hit one-month highs.
The Johannesburg Top-40 index closed up 0.35 percent at 50,168 points, while the broader All-Share index rose 0.22 percent to 56,237 points.
Among the biggest gainers, South African retailer Steinhoff climbed 6.38 percent to 3 rand after it extended for a second time the “early bird fee” deadline for creditors to sign a three-year agreement to hold off their debt claims.
Africa’s biggest supermarket chain Shoprite Holdings was among the biggest decliners, shedding 3.73 percent to 212.30 rand after its annual turnover was lower than analyst expectations. (Reporting by Patricia Aruo and Nomvelo Chalumbira Editing by Ed Stoddard)