South African bonds were firmer on Wednesday afternoon as the rand resumed its winning ways following range-bound trade to the dollar for the past two days.

Investors are still keeping an eye on the ANC elective conference, which is expected to wrap up later in the day. Risks that the conference might collapse amid battles over how votes were counted during the election of the position for secretary-general, abated in late trade. New ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa is set to map out his vision for the future in his first speech as ANC leader later in the day.

The ANC attributed a further nine votes to Senzo Mchunu’s tally in the disputed race for secretary-general. This was not enough, however, to unseat Ace Magashule, who originally won with a majority of 24 votes, which has now been revised to 15.

"Offshore markets have focused on the headline of a Ramaphosa win and have bought heavily into our bond market as a sign of confidence," said TreasuryOne dealer Phillip Pearce, adding that the reactions from the rating agencies were mixed. "Moody’s expressed a cautious optimism and Fitch highlighted that the close victory and clear divisions would lead to further policy paralysis."

At 3pm, the benchmark R186 government bond was bid at 8.62% from 8.685% and the R207 at 7.42% from 7.5%.

The rand was at R12.6822 to the dollar from R12.7034.

US treasury yields were flat, after spiking earlier following the passing of a reformed tax bill in the US House of Representatives.

A procedural issue during the vote meant the House would have to vote on the bill a second time, as the earlier bill was in violation of Senate rules. Once these violations were amended, the House would vote again, with this second vote believed to be only a formality, FxPro analysts said.

The Senate voted overnight and the bill was passed by 51 votes to 48.

The US 10-year treasury was last seen at 2.4692% from 2.4673%

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