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South African rand steady in early trade

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JOHANNESBURG, Jan 18 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand traded steady against the dollar on Friday, after slipping in the previous session following the central bank's less-hawkish tone and decision to leave interest rates unchanged.


* At 0635 GMT, the rand traded at 13.7300 per dollar, not far off its New York close of 13.7250 on Thursday.
* South Africa's central bank on Thursday kept its benchmark repo rate unchanged at 6.75 percent, as expected, saying it had noted an improved inflation outlook.
* "The rand staged a mild recovery against the greenback overnight, drifting back to the comfort of 13.72, as risk assets benefited from positive U.S. factory data that helped allay growing growth concerns, and while the U.S. and Asian equity markets posted gains amid positive trade talks," RMB analysts wrote in a note.
* "Yet there is still very little on offer in terms of data or events to drive USD/ZAR and, by implication, benchmark bonds, lower, with U.S. treasuries relatively unchanged. Expect the USD/ZAR 13.65-13.85 range to be sustained."
* In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 added 2 basis points to 8.82 percent in early trade.


(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

olivia.kumwenda.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))
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