(Updates to reflect afternoon trade)
JOHANNESBURG, Jan 19 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand rose strongly on Tuesday, helped by a surge in global risk appetite as investors expected Janet Yellen to use her confirmation speech as U.S. Treasury Secretary to lay out the case for more stimulus spending.
At 1620 GMT, the rand ZAR=D3 traded at 14.9850 versus the U.S. dollar, 1.2% firmer than its previous close and breaking below the 15 per dollar mark for the first time in two weeks.
The dollar .DXY tumbled before Yellen's testimony on Tuesday, when she was expected to urge lawmakers to "act big" on the next coronavirus relief package. rand has mainly taken its cue from global drivers so far this month in the absence of major local data releases. But this week that changes with releases including retail sales ZARET=ECI figures for November and the December consumer price index. ZACPIY=ECI
Mining ZAMNG=ECI output slumped 11.6% year on year in November, data on Tuesday showed, extending output declines seen in previous months. Thursday, the central bank will announce its latest interest rate decision. Most economists expect it to hold the repo rate ZAREPO=ECI at 3.5%, but a small minority is predicting a rate cut. on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange were mixed on Tuesday, with retailers gaining and miners falling. .JRESI .
The benchmark All-share index .JALSH was down 0.17% at the close at 63,603 points. The bluechip top-40 index .JTOPI ended down 0.32% at 58,359 points.
The general retailers index .JGERE was up almost 6% at market close, helped by gains for companies such as TFG TFGJ.J which reported a 5.5% rise in third-quarter turnover. bonds firmed slightly, with the yield on the 2030 instrument ZAR2030= dropping 1.5 basis points to 8.755%.
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