December 31, 2019 / 1:07 PM / 23 days ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's rand weathers risks to end 2019 higher, stocks down

(Adds latest figures)

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 31 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand advanced on Tuesday, holding on to gains from previous sessions triggered by a global investor hunt for high yields and optimism over a breakthrough in trade standoff between China and the United States.

At 1230 GMT, the rand was up 0.4% at 14.0650 after an overnight close of 14.1200.

The rand has gained about 5% since mid-December, despite a raft of data releases showing a weak economy and nationwide blackouts by state power company Eskom, with investors willing to overlook the negatives and pocket the high yield.

The currency has hovered around a five-month best against the dollar for the last week. In the previous session it crossed below 14.00 before succumbing to some profit-taking as traders wrapped up positions heading into the end of the year.

With local markets closing early and volumes already slim, the rand is set to trade between 14.00 and 14.20 for the rest of the week.

Bonds were steady, with the yield on the benchmark 2026 debt at 8.245%.

Data from the central bank earlier showed growth in private- sector credit in slowed to 6.60% year-on-year in November from 7.28% in October, underling the weak consumer activity likely to keep economic growth constrained in 2020.

Stocks ended 2019 lower along with other emerging markets after investors booked profits following recent gains on optimism over a U.S.-China trade deal.

Demand for riskier assets has grown as trade tensions between the United States and China eased and uncertainty around Brexit declined. The JSE Top-40 Index down 1.13% at 50,816 points, while the All-Share Index slipped 1.07% to 57,084 points.

Shares in telecoms giant MTN dipped slightly after it was sued by military veterans in the United States, who accuse several firms of paying protection money to militant Islamist groups in Afghanistan.

MTN said on Monday it was reviewing allegations raised in the U.S. complaint.

Its Johannesburg listed shares were down 1.3% percent to 82.49 rand. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Alison Williams)

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