The rand was weaker by more than 1 percent in Tuesday afternoon trade, as result of the negative first quarter unemployment rate released by Statistics SA.
The SA unemployment rate rose to 25.2 percent in the first quarter 2012 from 23.9 percent in the fourth quarter as there was a quarterly decline of 75,000 in the number employed to 13.422 million.
The labour force grew by 466,000 in the past year, which is why the unemployment rate increased.
"The data that came out had an impact on the rand. Reserves came lower as expected but the unemployment came negatively impacting on the local currency," a local trader said.
At 15:39 local time the rand was bid at R7.8733 to the dollar from its previous close of R7.7983. It was bid at R10.2388 to the euro from R10.1860 before, and at R12.7080 against sterling from R12.6332 previously.
The euro was bid at US$1.3006, from its previous close of $1.3057 on Monday.
Dow Jones Newswires reported that currency markets were steady on Tuesday in European trading, with the euro holding above $1.30 against the dollar after an initial plunge to three-month lows in the wake of the French and Greek elections, as traders in London returned from a long weekend.
The single currency's sharp decline on Monday reflected concerns about another intensification of the eurozone debt crisis after the French president was voted out and Greece delivered a highly fragmented parliament, in a double whammy that could upset the progress made in resolving the debt saga in Europe.
"The social uprising against austerity [in Greece] at such an early stage has raised significant implementation risks... and will serve to increase investor expectations again of a more disorderly default and eventual euro exit," Lee Hardman, a currency strategist at the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi-UFJ, wrote in a note to investors.
The euro was mostly steady, partly due to other offsetting factors such as an uncertain outlook for US monetary policy. However, some currency strategists said it was probably only a matter of time before the penny dropped.
Bonds weaker but off worst levels
South African bonds remained on the back foot in late afternoon trade on Tuesday, but were off the session's worst levels.
At 15:50, the benchmark R157 bond was trading at 6.460 percent from Monday's close of 6.415 percent. The R207 was bid at 7.570 percent and offered at 7.545 percent from a previous close of 7.500 percent and the R186 was trading at 8.210 percent from its close of 8.135 percent.