Off The Wire
UPDATE 1-South African rand on the frontfoot, stocks dip on lower metal prices
* Rand helped by Moody's relief
* Stocks weighed down by metal prcies
(Adds latest prices, analyst comment)
JOHANNESBURG, Nov 28 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand steadied against the dollar on Tuesday, holding near a five-week high touched in the previous session after the country avoided a double downgrade of its local currency debt.
At 1500 GMT the rand was 0.3 percent firmer at 13.7200 per dollar compared to a close of 13.7600 overnight in New York.
The rand marched to a one-month best on Monday on relief that ratings agency Moody's would wait until after the African National Congress (ANC) leadership conference, and possibly February's budget, before downgrading the country's debt.
S&P Global Ratings downgraded Pretoria's local currency debt to sub-investment grade on Friday and thrust the foreign currency debt deeper into "junk" territory, while Moody's opted to put the rating on review for a downgrade. A downgrade by Moody's could have forced index-tracking and rating-constrained funds to sell more than $10 billion in debt, analysts have predicted. Traders said the rand had also benefited from increasing signs that Cyril Ramaphosa was leading Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the race to replace President Jacob Zuma as leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
"The market is starting to price a Ramaphosa victory. This we think is the real reason (for the rand strength)," said John Cairns, chief currency strategist at Rand Merchant Bank.
A survey on Thursday showed business confidence slipped deeper into negative territory in the fourth quarter, highlighting pressure still faced by the economy after it emerged from a first quarter recession. The statistics office is due to release third quarter GDP figures next Tuesday.
Yields on the benchmark paper due in 2026 were down 6 basis points to 9.18 percent.
Stocks ended slightly weaker with mining shares out of favour as industrial metal prices faltered. The benchmark JSE Top-40 index lost 0.3 percent to 53,645 and the broader All-share index was down 0.12 percent at 60,082.
Mining heavyweights took the most points off the index with Anglo American dropping 3.5 percent and rival BHP Billiton slipping 3.2 percent.
(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Tiisetsto Motsoenneng; editing by Mark Heinrich)