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South African Rand and Stocks Ride Global Rally

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 23 (Reuters) - The South African rand strengthened against the dollar in thin trade on Thursday, as investors continued to buy riskier assets on expectations that the Omicron variant's impact on the global economy would be less severe than previously feared.

At 1516 GMT, the rand traded at 15.6300 against the dollar, 0.45% stronger than its previous close.

"Some risk appetite returned last night as an improving global economic outlook outweighed Omicron concerns," said Andre Cilliers, currency strategist at TreasuryONE.

Gains were also supported by the South Africa's health regulator approval of the use of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine for a second dose or booster, which could shore up protection against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Stocks also enjoyed a further boost, building on gains made a day earlier.

Shares around the world have rallied in recent days as investors welcomed signs that the Omicron variant might be less severe than previously expected, as well as other positive signals like robust U.S. economic data.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange's Top-40 Index closed up 0.5%, while the All-Share index rose 0.46%. Technology companies were among the gainers, with tech investor Naspers rising 1.09% and its subsidiary Prosus, jumping 3.02%.

South African government bonds strengthened, with the yield on the instrument due in 2030 dropping 8 basis points to 9.305%.

Reporting by Emma Rumney and Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Pravin Char

Source: Reuters

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