South Africa's rand weakened against the dollar on Tuesday, reversing earlier gains on broad-based dollar buying but could get support at around 7.16.

In the absence of market-moving news locally the rand mirrored weakness in other emerging market currencies after Switzerland's central bank said it would peg its currency and enforce that by buying foreign currency.

The rand hit a nine-day low at 7.1650 to the dollar at one point.

South African stocks fell by more than 1 percent, tracking global equities on persistent worries about the global economy and the debt crisis in Europe.

The JSE Top-40 blue-chip index dropped 1.39 percent to 26,184.5 points and the broader All-share index fell 1.21 percent to 29,525.83.

Government bonds bucked that weaker trend though, after a stronger-than-expected debt auction, which saw yields fall to one-year lows.

The rand was trading at 7.15 against the dollar at 1555 GMT, 0.5 percent weaker than its previous close of 7.1180.

It hit session highs at 7.06, but retreated as importers came in to buy dollars.

It has been extremely volatile, I would imagine the major catalyst would have been the Swiss National Bank comments around the Swiss strength, said a local trader.

The rand has strong support at around 7.16 to the dollar but if it breaks that level convincingly it would eye 7.20-7.23.

The rand has recovered from one-year lows of 7.50 hit early in August but charts suggest the bearish trend remains as the currently is trading weaker than its 50-, 100- and 200-day moving averages.

BOND YIELDS FALL

On the fixed income market, the yield on the 2015 bond fell to record lows at 6.27 percent. It was last at 6.33 percent, 2 basis points lower than at the previous close.

The yield on the 2026 yield was down 9.5 basis points to 7.745 percent on the day, after hitting 7.695 percent, its lowest since January 2009.

The move down was driven effectively by the global search for safe-haven kind of markets after equity markets were down as much as they are, said a bond dealer at Rand Merchant Bank.

Manufacturing data on Thursday could see bonds gain further if the data points to a further economic slowdown in the third quarter.

A Reuters poll showed the market is expecting output to contract by 0.6 percent year-on-year in July, a figure that will boost the case for another rate cut. The central bank already cut rates by a cumulative 650 basis points between the end of 2008 and the end of 2010.

Among movers on the stock exchange, luxury goods maker Richemont topped the losers' list, falling 4.35 percent to 36.49 rand ahead of results on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Steinhoff fell 1.96 percent to 21.55 rand after the furniture retailer posted virtually no growth in full-year profit.