Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The rand hovered around the symbolic R12 to the dollar level on Friday afternoon, with an air of caution in the markets.

The rand was firmer against the dollar and euro, but weaker against sterling. Analysts said the pound strength was somewhat puzzling, but appeared to be related to it recently breaking a key support level against the euro.

In the absence of major local or international data releases, catalysts were few and far between. Concern of possible conflict between the US and Russia over Syria continues to weigh on sentiment, while corporate earnings season in the US will kick off with the release of the results for three major banks later on Friday.

"The end of the week is looking a little quieter in some respects and yet, with geopolitical risk heightening in recent days and first-quarter earnings season getting under way, it’s unlikely to be entirely peaceful," said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

Reports from White House officials suggested efforts to agree on, and co-ordinate, a military response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria earlier this week continued. US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that a decision would be made "fairly soon".

At 3.04pm, the rand was at R12.0533 to the dollar from R12.0604, R14.8501 to the euro from R14.8668 and at R17.1872 to the pound from R17.1587. The euro was at $1.2320, from $1.2326.