JOHANNESBURG, Jan 12 (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand was flat early on Thursday, as investors awaited U.S. inflation data, which could determine whether the Federal Reserve will slow the pace of its policy tightening and ease the pressure on global central banks.

At 0658 GMT, the rand traded at 16.9475 against the dollar, 0.03% weaker than its previous close.

The annual reading for U.S. CPI is expected to show a decline to 6.5% in December from 7.1% in the prior month, according to Refinitiv data.

“Should it surprise to the downside, it will have major implications for the dollar that will likely come under tremendous pressure,” ETM Analytics said in a research note.

“The opposite also holds true, but to a lesser extent, given just how much has already been priced into the market,” it added.

The risk-sensitive rand often takes its cues from global drivers such as the U.S. monetary policy in the absence of major local events.

The government’s benchmark 2030 bond was almost unchanged in early deals, with the yield at 9.855%.