(Updates to reflect afternoon trade)
JOHANNESBURG, Jan 2 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand lost ground on Thursday as the U.S. dollar recovered on global markets, while local stocks were boosted by looser policy from China's central bank and optimism over a U.S.-China trade deal.
Volumes on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange were thin with many traders yet to return to work after the Christmas and New Year holidays.
By 1548 GMT, the rand had weakened around 0.5% from its previous close to trade at 14.0830 per dollar, halting a recent rally. The dollar had gained around 0.3% against a basket of currencies.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Phase 1 of a trade deal with China would be signed on Jan. 15, helping ease concerns over the health of the global economy.
A Chinese central bank decision on Wednesday to cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves, a move likely to boost economic activity, helped lift stocks. China is South Africa's largest trading partner.
The JSE's Top-40 Index closed up 1.22% at 51,438 points. The All-Share Index rose 1.11% to 57,718 points.
Telecoms company MTN gained 1.41%, as the company agreed to sell stakes in towers businesses in Ghana and Uganda.
Government bonds also gained, with the yield on the 2026 bond down 4.5 basis points to 8.21%.
(Reporting by Alexander Winning and Tanisha Heiberg; editing by Larry King)