* Rand slips
* Stocks down led by Barclays Africa
(Adds latest prices, analyst quotes)
JOHANNESBURG May 31 South Africa's rand
weakened on Wednesday with a combination of mixed trade data and
a looming interest rate hike in the United States keeping
Stocks were lower on the day with Barclays Africa unit
falling after the company said it had approval to sell off its
stake in the locally listed entity.
The rand weakened 0.4 percent to 13.1875 per
dollar, sliding back from a brief run to a session best 13.0600
as a third consecutive trade surplus, albeit smaller than
expected, failed to lift the cloud of political uncertainty.
"The short term outlook for the rand remains unfavourable as
long as political noise continues to dominate headlines and
drive pessimism," said economist at ETM analytics Halen Bothma.
The unit retreated from last week's 2-month high after
President Jacob Zuma over the weekend survived a second attempt
in six months by members of the ruling African National
Congress (ANC) to unseat him as leader. It has been on the
Zuma has faced an internal backlash as well as outcry from
opposition parties and civil society after his decision to fire
Pravin Gordhan as finance minister in late March triggered
downgrades to junk by two of the big three ratings agencies.
Fitch and S&P Global Ratings, who both cut South Africa's
sovereign rating from BBB- to BB+ in early April are expected to
make follow-up rating decisions this week, while Moody's is due
announce a credit review in the next two weeks.
Trade figures for April showed the country recorded a 5.1
billion rand surplus, just shy of market forecasts. New vehicle
sales and unemployment data are due on Thursday.
On the bourse, the benchmark Top-40 index fell 1.14
percent to 47,154 points while the All-Share index
weakened 1.1 percent to 53,563 points.
Barclays Africa the biggest faller on the
Johannesburg top-40 index, dropped 4.76 percent to 139.00 rand
after its parent company Barclays Plc said it had
secured approval from the South African finance minister to sell
down its 50 percent stake.
Further losses came from retailer and wholesaler Spar Group
which dropped 2.76 percent to 170.92 rand after its
half-year slipped due to share issuance in part to fund foreign
acquisitions and to settle its share schemes aimed at black
In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond
due in 2026 was down 2 basis points to 8.6 percent.
(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Tanisha Heiberg)