The rand gained from the euro's bounce in quiet early trade on Thursday.
"We have had a quiet start so far and are just consolidating the overnight gains. We could see further exporter demand as the R8 per dollar level has proven to be a strong support level," a local trader said.
At 08:11 local time, the rand was bid at R7.9562 to the dollar from its previous close of R7.9807. It was bid at R10.4509 to the euro from R10.4642 before, and at R12.6636 against sterling from R12.6955 previously.
Gold was trading at US$1658.20 per ounce.
The euro was bid at US$1.3146 from its Wednesday's close of $1.3117 and Tuesday's close of $1.3078.
Absa Capital said in its morning commentary that the rand weakened to a fresh 3-month low of R8.05 against the dollar on Wednesday morning, but rand bears ran out of steam in the wake of yesterday afternoon's encouraging local manufacturing data, suggestions from the ECB that it stood ready to start buying bonds again (through its Securities Market Programme) and a well-received Italian bond auction.
"The rand has continued to enjoy some short covering this morning, following last night's positive finish on Wall Street (the first daily gain for the past six trading sessions), which in turn was a function of some encouraging US earning's figures. Italian and Spanish bonds have moderated in the wake of yesterday's ECB remarks, which together with this morning's encouraging employment data out of Australia explains why risky assets are currently enjoying some reprieve.
"We suspect that in order for risk appetite to gain sustained traction, tomorrow morning's Chinese GDP and manufacturing data must not come in below market consensus. In this regard the World Bank has downwardly revised its 2012 GDP forecast from 8.4 percent to 8.2 percent, while simultaneously upwardly revising its 2013 GDP forecast from 8.3 percent to 9.6 percent. In summary, we still maintain that the recent sell-off of risky assets is overdone and that participants should take advantage of the current levels to rebuild core long rand positions," Absa said.
Meanwhile Dow Jones Newswires reported that the euro gained against the dollar and yen during Asian trading Thursday on improved risk appetite after the release of strong Australian jobs data, although concerns over the eurozone's fiscal health and China's slowing economy are likely to continue pressuring the common currency.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said earlier that the nation's unemployment rate in March was steady at 5.2 percent from February, and that the number of employed rose to 44,000, a figure much larger than the forecasted 6,000. The news pushed the Australian dollar up against the dollar and yen, a move that also propelled the euro against the dollar, triggering stop-loss orders on the way.
Bonds follow rand firmer
South African bonds were slightly firmer in early morning trade on Thursday, on the back of a firmer local currency.
At 08:50, the benchmark R157 bond was at trading 6.715 percent from its previous close of 6.735 percent. The R207 was bid at 7.845 percent and offered at 7.820 percent from a previous close of 7.855 percent and the R186 bid at 8.465 percent and offered at 8.435 percent from its close of 8.475 percent.