October 15, 2018 / 7:14 AM / 9 months ago

South African rand firmer, stocks down in early trade

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 15 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand firmed against the dollar in early trade on Monday as markets digested news that ratings agency Moody’s opted to hold off publishing a review of the country’s debt on Friday, Oct. 12, as planned.

* The rand was 0.5 percent stronger at 14.4475 per dollar at 0700 GMT, having closed in New York at 14.5200 on Friday.

* Moody’s said it would not publish a review of South Africa’s debt on Friday as was widely expected, without giving a reason for the delay or the next scheduled release date.

* Moody’s rates South Africa’s foreign and local currency debt on their lowest investment grade rung of Baa3, with a stable outlook.

* “South Africa remains Baa3 with stable outlook, and the absence of action implies that there is no significant change in the credit view from the last time that action was taken,” Rand Merchant Bank analysts Mpho Tsebe and Elena Ilkova wrote in a note.

* In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 was flat at 9.245 percent.

* On the stock market, the Top-40 index was down 0.82 percent while the broader all-share edged 0.66 percent lower in early trade. (Reporting by Nomvelo Chalumbira Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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