JOHANNESBURG – The rand weakened against the dollar on Wednesday, weighed down by a souring growth outlook as the continent’s most advanced economy continued to show signs of slowing down.

Stocks firmed, led higher by bourse heavyweight and e-commerce group Naspers.

At 1515 GMT the rand was 0.28% weaker at 14.2100 per dollar from its New York close of 14.1725 overnight.

The rand has fallen nearly 3% in the last week, weighed down by woes at power utility Eskom and overall mixed fortunes for emerging currencies as the greenback regained momentum and powered to near a two-week high.

The currency edged firmer after Tuesday’s GDP data showed the economy grew 0.8% in 2018, slightly higher than expected, but was back on the ropes on Wednesday after business confidence slumped to a five-month low.

Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago said on Wednesday growth was set to remain below 2% in 2019, while rising fuel and electricity prices posed a risk to the inflation outlook.

Low inflation has boosted demand for Pretoria’s debt, with the 10-year paper offering around a 3 basis point spread above US Treasuries, shielding the rand from even deeper losses.

The yield on the 2026 bond was 1 basis point higher at 8.69% at close of play.

On the bourse, the Johannesburg all-share index rose 0.42% to 56,053 points, while the Top-40 index gained 0.58% to 49,875 points.

Naspers led the market higher, up 1.91% to R3,215.34 after gains in Hong Kong technology giant Tencent, in which it has a 31% stake.