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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's rand firmed early on Monday as the dollar pulled back slightly from a 3-1/2-month high last week, with traders expecting thin trade in the session ahead of a national holiday on Tuesday.

South African rand firms, trade data awaited

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand firmed early on Monday as the dollar pulled back slightly from a 3-1/2-month high last week, with traders expecting thin trade in the session ahead of a national holiday on Tuesday.

South African bank notes featuring images of former South African President Nelson Mandela (R) are displayed next to the American dollar notes in this photo illustration in Johannesburg August 13 2014. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

At 0626 GMT, the rand traded at 12.3050 per dollar, 0.22 percent firmer than its close on Friday.

“Barring some local credit numbers this morning and local trade balance a bit later we don’t expect too much to happen

today as many locals take advantage of the extra-long weekend with the holiday tomorrow,” Nedbank analysts wrote in a note.

Nedbank added: “The rand has room to extend lower towards 12.2000 from here but expect that area to provide some good support initially and on the topside 12.37/38 and then 12.4600.”

Central bank data showed on Monday that growth in private-sector credit demand in South Africa rose in March from February.

The South African revenue service will publish March trade balance data at 1200 GMT.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond fell 3.5 basis points to 8.17 percent, reflecting firmer bond prices.

Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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