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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The South African rand was little changed early on Wednesday, as investor caution reigned ahead of a closely watched budget speech by the country’s finance minister.

At 0550 GMT, the rand traded at 14.2700 versus the dollar, a shade weaker from its close of 14.2625 on Tuesday.

Recently appointed Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is expected to announce revised budget deficit targets and growth forecasts, as well as measures to boost the economy and shore up struggling state-owned companies.

The tone of his medium-term budget speech will influence whether Moody’s strips South Africa of its last investment grade credit rating at a review expected after the speech.

“South Africa’s new finance minister will probably announce further fiscal tightening,” John Ashbourne at Capital Economics said in a note.

“This will likely placate ratings agencies, but supports our view that economic growth will remain weak.”

Government bonds were slightly stronger in early deals, with the yield on the benchmark instrument due in 2026 down 4 basis points to 9.125 percent.

Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Sunil Nair

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