November 15, 2017 / 4:05 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's rand inches firmer, stocks slide as resources suffer

* Rand ekes out gains as buyers seek cheap entry

* Stocks falter on resources selloff (Adds latest prices, analyst quote)

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 15 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand inched firmer on Wednesday, holding its ground against the weaker dollar with higher gold prices and signs of improving economic growth luring back buyers.

Stocks were down as resource companies suffered as part of a global selloff.

At 1440 GMT the rand was 0.1 percent firmer at 14.3625 per dollar, marginally firmer that its close of 14.3700 overnight in New York.

The rand climbed to a session best of 14.3100, with bids spread almost evenly between 14.3400 and 14.4000, the former a recent technical resistance target that could open the door for further gains towards 14.20.

Traders said buying action would be concentrated at these levels as investors looked to find positions ahead of next Thursday’s local lending rates decision and credit rating announcements the day after.

All but two of the 28 economists surveyed over the past week by Reuters said rates would stay at 6.75 percent at the November 23 Reserve Bank meeting.

S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s are expected to announce their decision on Nov. 24.

Bonds continued to firm, with the yield on the benchmark paper due in 2026 cutting 5.5 basis points to 9.41 percent.

Retail sales rose by 5.4 percent year-on-year in September, beating expectation of 4.5 percent expansion, according to Statistics South Africa.

“Despite the month-on-month falls in output and spending in September, it looks like the economy enjoyed reasonably strong growth over Q3 as a whole,” said senior emerging markets analyst at Capital Economics William Jackson.

Stocks ended weaker, with the Top-40 index 53,004 points and the wider All-Share measure falling 0.56 percent to 59,185 points.

Gains on the gold index tracking higher global bullion prices were countered by losses in resources, banking and general retailers.

Shares of packaging firm Nampak fell 5.86 percent to 16.70 rand after it said in a trading statement earnings per share, a measure of profitability, was expected to fall nearly 90 percent in the period ended Sept.30.

Johannesburg shares of commodities Glencore slipped 2.2 percent to 65.43 rand.

Reuters exclusively reported on Wednesday the Swiss-based, London-listed firm has offered Chad a grace period from principal repayments on a $1 billion cash-for-crude loan.

The mining index was down 2.17 percent, with heavyweights Billiton, Exxaro and Sasol all down over two percent. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)

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