The rand gained on Thursday against a dollar weakened by lingering concerns about the trade wrangle between the United States and China, while stocks were lower as positive sentiment after an overnight rally faded.
At 15:00 GMT the rand was 0.15% firmer at 14.5325 per dollar compared with a close of 14.5550 overnight.
The currency reached a session best 14.4500 in early trade but lacked momentum in low-volume trade to push through to technical resistance at 14.40 that traders are eyeing as a catalyst for further gains.
With politics in Washington and the Sino-US trade row curbing any large bets on emerging currencies going into year-end, the dollar was down 0.2% on the day.
Reuters reported on Thursday that the Trump administration is considering an executive order in the new year to declare a national emergency that would bar US companies from using Huawei and ZTE 000063.SZ products.
South African bonds were firmer, with the yield on benchmark government paper due in 2026 down 7 basis points to 8.93%.
In stocks, the Top-40 index fell 1.32% to 45,595 points, while the broader all-share was down 1.14% at 51,489 points.
Financial firm Old Mutual, Bidvest, and tech-giant Naspers were the biggest fallers on the blue-chip index, each down more than three percent.
Shares of telecoms giant MTN led the gainers, jumping as much as eight percent in its first trading session since it agreed to pay $53 million to settle a row with Nigeria’s central bank that had threatened to cost it billions.
At the close, MTN shares were 3.32% higher at R884.30.