THE rand was under pressure, tracking the euro weaker in afternoon trade on Friday in the wake of weak US jobs data and lingering uncertainty over Europe's multiple debt crises.

At 80000 new jobs in June, US non-farm payrolls came in short of the estimated 100000 jobs expected, pointing to further weakness in the world's largest economy.

June's weak US jobs figures came hot on the heels of similarly disappointing US manufacturing and services data, further souring investor sentiment.

At 3.55pm, the rand was bid at R8,2668 to the dollar from its previous close of R8,1347. It was bid at R10,1690 to the euro from its previous close of R10,0690 and at R12,8066 against sterling from R12,6167 before.

The euro was bid at $1,2307 from its previous close of $1,2383.

"The US data fell short of expectations. We have been tracking the euro and it seems it will be much of the same into next week," a local trader said.

The soft employment report, however, failed to hurt the dollar, with analysts putting forward various reasons for the currency's apparent disregard for the dire economic conditions reflected in the recent slew of poor data.

Neil Jones, economist at Mizuho, argued that the report was not weak enough to launch a third round of quantative easing, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

More importantly, investors may perceive the weak report as an addition to the broader backdrop of a global slowdown - in which case, the dollar is favoured as a safe-haven currency.

Mr Jones said the jobs reading prompted him to increase short bets on the euro against the dollar. "The euro underperformed on signs of more sluggish global growth, given the eurozone will rely on external demand to stand any chance of revival."

He saw the euro dropping to at least $1,15 before the year's end.

mungadzes@bdfm.co.za