* Rand retreats as weak economy weighs
* Richemont & British American Tobacco among the gainers (Adds latest prices, analyst quotes)
JOHANNESBURG, Sept 7 (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand weakened on Thursday following weak data on the local economy and mixed signals by the European Central Bank on its stimulus programme.
Stocks closed slightly higher with rand-hedged companies benefiting from the weaker currency.
By 1445 GMT the rand had slipped 0.33 percent to 12.8325 per dollar compared to an overnight close of 12.7900 in New York.
South Africa’s manufacturing and mining data came in below expectations and ECB President Mario Draghi’s policy speech offered no clear timetable for winding back the bank’s bond buying programme.
Industrial output fell for a third consecutive month, dropping by 1.4 percent year-on-year in July, way below the consensus forecast of a 0.35 percent contraction. Mining output rose 0.9 percent year-on-year, lagging the consensus of a 2.8 percent increase.
On the stock market, the benchmark Top-40 index was up 0.83 percent at 49,430 points, while the broader All-share index climbed 0.72 percent to 55,878 points.
Rand hedges, shares of companies with operations abroad that make the bulk of their revenue outside South Africa and tend to benefit from a weaker rand, lifted the bourse.
Luxury goods maker Richemont, which has risen more than 30 percent this year, was up 2.20 percent to 117.90 rand.
British American Tobacco gained 2.21 percent to 826.43 rand while Glencore was up 1.46 percent to 61.86 rand.
Higher gold prices boosted AngloGold Ashanti, with the bullion producer closing 3.16 percent higher at 137.50 rand.
Bonds were firmer, with the yield on the benchmark 2026 paper falling 2.5 basis to 8.42 percent. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Nqobile Dludla; editing by Andrew Roche)