The rand was ever so slightly weaker in midday trade on Thursday; local data that was released earlier, however, appeared to have little or no effect on the local currency.
Analysts said all eyes were fixed on the European Central Bank (ECB) meeting, which is expected to announce new measures to solve the euro crisis.
SA data released today included the Business Confidence Index, which is measured by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI). The index declined further, by 1.4 points, to 94.3 in April, which is the lowest level in three years and 8.2 points below the April 2011 level.
"The rand hasn't moved much - everyone is on the fence waiting for the ECB. The local data that came had no effect on the currency. If the vehicle sales data had had any effect we would have seen the rand weaken but that didn't happen," said a local trader.
At 11:33 local time the rand was bid at R7.7367 to the dollar from its previous close of R7.7253. It was bid at R10.1564 to the euro from R10.1547 before, and at R12.5104 against sterling from R12.5073 previously.
Gold was trading at US$1645.37 per ounce.
The euro was bid at US$1.3126 from its previous close of $1.3155.
Standard Bank in their morning report said that the moves on currency markets proved somewhat limited ahead of the ECB meeting today and all-important payrolls data on Friday.
"Although the euro is on the back foot this morning, if the ECB's tone is dovish - as we anticipate - this could prove to be positive for risk appetite. The rand could thus strengthen further today, with local data likely to be overshadowed," said Standard bank.
The bank added that despite it not being the consensus view - in fact most analysts expect no change in interest rates from the ECB at all this year - it would not rule out the possibility of a rate cut.
"The language of ECB officials has changed quite a bit recently, with the focus having quickly shifted away from inflation risks and towards the increasingly worrisome outlook for the EU's economic growth prospects," said Standard bank.
Dow Jones Newswires reported that the US dollar edged higher against the euro and the Australian dollar in Asia on Thursday, as investors trimmed risky positions ahead of a European Central Bank decision and key US employment data. While the dollar was slightly favoured, major currencies were mostly range-bound in quiet trade, with Japanese markets closed for the Golden Week holiday.
"The market may be positioning itself to be long on the dollar ahead of the event risk late in the week," said Barclays Asia strategist Nick Verdi. He noted specifically the ECB rate decision at 11:45 GMT, the US non-farm payrolls data on Friday and the French presidential election run-off on Sunday.
Nothing dramatic is expected from the ECB, as it is widely predicted to keep rates steady. But if ECB President Mario Draghi "expresses a pessimistic outlook on the European economy, which could open up more downside for the euro/dollar cross," Verdi said.
Bonds firm; offshore buying continues
South African bonds were firm in midday play on Thursday, as foreign buying buoyed the market.
At 11:50, the benchmark R157 bond was at 6.350 percent from its previous close of 6.390 percent. The R207 was bid at 7.450 percent and offered at 7.420 percent from a previous close of 7.480 percent and the R186 was trading at 8.080 percent from its close of 8.120 percent.