Stocks and rand slide as level 4 restrictions hit

South African stocks extended their slide for a second day on Monday (28 June), as the country reintroduced tighter lockdown measures to rein in surging coronavirus infections.

The FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index dropped as much as 0.5%, before paring losses to 0.2% by 13h20, its biggest intraday drop in one week, Bloomberg reported.

In a televised address Sunday evening, president Cyril Ramaphosa moved the country to alert level 4, the national second highest.

The restrictions include a ban on the sale of alcohol and outlawing of public gatherings. The president also directed the closure of schools to curb surging coronavirus infections.

A weakness in the rand also pulled banks, insurers and retailers lower. Losses from 102 of the 140 listed companies offset gains by market giants Naspers, BHP Group, and Richemont.

The rand fell 0.7% after three straight sessions of gains, as curbs were tightened for two weeks with the country battling the fast-spreading Delta variant amid a slow rollout of vaccines.

The currency is down more than 3% so far this month – among the worst EM performers in June, Reuters reported.

“This scenario, although necessary, is likely to hamper an already faltering economy, and the rand is likely to remain under pressure, with any strength in the local unit likely to be met with fresh demand for USD,” said Nedbank analysts in a note.

The rand was trading at the following levels against the major currencies at 14h40 on Monday (28 June):

  • Dollar/Rand: R14.25 (+0.76%)
  • Pound/Rand: R19.81 (+0.89%)
  • Euro/Rand: R16.97 (+0.46%)

The third wave will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the economy, economists from the University of Stellenbosch’s Bureau for Economic Research (BER) said on Monday.

Several new restrictions were announced on Sunday evening by president Cyril Ramaphosa under an adjusted lockdown level 4, in a bid to combat the rising number of cases.

These include restrictions on travel, a ban on gatherings and alcohol, as well as shuttering a number of businesses like gyms, cinemas, taverns and restaurants for sit-in meals.

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, it is the liquor, hospitality and aviation industries that will be impacted the most.

“In terms of the broader economic impact of the surging cases in Gauteng/third wave across the country, the question remains to what extent individual consumers will self-restrict their movements to, for example, shopping centres and restaurants,” the BER said.

“The latest Google mobility data for Gauteng suggests that this has already happened.”

Read: South Africa’s shock job numbers – and a plan to give a basic income grant to people under 35

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Stocks and rand slide as level 4 restrictions hit