August 27, 2018 / 6:58 AM / 3 months ago

South Africa's rand falls in early trade, stocks set to open higher

FILE PHOTO: South African rand coins are seen in this photo illustration taken September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand weakened against the dollar in early trade on Monday, as markets digested comments from the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve signalling a gradual approach to interest rate hikes.

At 0645 GMT, the rand traded at 14.3000 per dollar, 0.25 percent weaker than its close on Friday.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday defended the U.S. central bank’s push to raise interest rates as healthy for the economy and signalled more hikes were coming despite President Donald Trump’s criticism of higher borrowing costs. [nL2N1VF0MJ]

Market focus in the week will also be on domestic data releases, with July money supply, private sector credit extension and producer price inflation numbers due on Thursday and trade balance figures out on Friday.

Stocks were set to open higher at 0700 GMT, with the JSE securities exchange’s Top-40 futures index up 0.53 percent.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 was down 1 basis point to 8.89 percent.

Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Alison Williams

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