South African stocks fall as rand hits mining firms

* Stronger rand weighs on resources

* Spot gold drags bullion firms down

By Helen Nyambura-Mwaura

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 12 (Reuters) - South African shares turned slightly negative on Friday as the strengthening rand currency

undermined stock prices of resource firms such as Harmony Gold .

Anglo American Platinum , the world's largest producer of the precious metal, lost 1.3 percent to 399.56 rand after saying wildcat strikes at its shaft had cost it $126 million in lost revenue.

The Top-40 fell 0.24 percent to 32,276.07 and the All-Share lost 0.16 percent to 36,440.05.

Mining companies listed on the Johannesburg bourse have been hit by a string of illegal strikes in the last two months that started in the platinum sector and have spread to gold firms and beyond.

Viwe Godlwana, a trader at Imara S.P. Reid, said the stronger rand and gold price pull back were major forces moving the market.

A weaker rand supports resources, which are produced in the local currency but priced in dollars.

The rand slid to a 3-1/2 year low earlier this week, pummelled by months of labour unrest, but it has firmed slightly since then and deputy central bank Governor Francois Groepe expects it to strengthen.

"The rand's exchange value has reflected investor concerns in recent weeks, and although the negative consequences of the unrest cannot be underestimated, I am confident the currency will return to more appropriate levels," Groepe said in a speech posted on the bank's website on Friday.

Bullion's spot price was 0.16 percent lower at $1,765.40 per ounce at 1500 GMT, and is set for its biggest weekly loss in two months.

Both Harmony Gold and Gold Fields shed over 1 percent to 70.17 and 106.64 rand respectively. Shares of global miner Anglo American shaved 1.7 percent to 255.40 rand.

Truck drivers signed a three-year wage increase deal, ending a three-week strike that has hit deliveries across Africa's largest economy. This boosted shares of the biggest-listed logistics group, Imperial Holdings , which rose more than 2 percent.

Mr. Price and Woolworths both gained over 1 percent as investors piled back into the retail sector.

"They have fallen quite a bit. People are jumping into the lower share prices," trader at Imara S.P. Reid, Godlwana, said.

The Johannesburg bourse is likely to track world exchanges in the coming week, she said.

(Editing by Jon Herskovitz)

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