Here is what’s happening in the markets:
- Finance minister Pravin Gordhan has sobered his tone in ongoing battle with SARS head Tom Monyane – saying he will look to President Jacob Zuma to guide the matter. Cabinet announced on Thursday that Zuma would get involved and deal with the matter personally. Monyane opened an investigation into a “rogue unit” at SARS that was started under Gordhan’s watch. The Hawks are investigating the matter, supported by Zuma, targeting Gordhan. Gordhan wants Monyane gone.
- South Africa’s mining sector is taking another knock with a restructuring process at Lonmin mines resulting in over 5,000 people losing their jobs through voluntary retrenchment packages. Meanwhile credit ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service cut its ratings on BHP Billiton to “A3” from “A1”, citing a deterioration in the company’s earnings and cash flow, and said the outlook on the ratings was negative. The National Union of Mineworkers previously warned of massive job losses in the mining industry, claiming that as many as 100,000 people could lose their jobs after global mining group, Anglo American, dumps some of its assets in the country.
- South African shares leapt to three-month highs on Thursday, tracking global markets as a recovery in commodities lifted risk appetite globally, but the rand fell on renewed bets of a rate hike in the United States. The rand is trading at R15.62 to the US dollar, R22.11 to the pound and R17.09 to the euro.
- In global markets, Asian shares looked set on Friday to post their strongest week in five months as global investors returned to riskier assets after a string of positive U.S. economic data and a bounce in oil and commodity prices. US data on Thursday was positive on the whole, with factory orders rising and the service sector index showing continued expansion.
- Crude futures rose in Asian trade on Friday, buoyed by renewed optimism prices may have bottomed out after official U.S. data showed oil production fell to its lowest level since November 2014. Brent oil was trading at $37.20 a barrel, on track for a gain of 6% this week, while US crude has risen 6.2% this week to $34.80 a barrel.
In other news: Voting registration weekend is upon us, and the 9 million unregistered voters are encouraged to head out to voting stations to register for the 2016 Municipal Elections. Here is a guide on how to do that.