Here is what’s happening in the markets:
- MTN is still in talks with Nigerian authorities to reduce the $3,9 billion fine that was imposed on the telco for failing to disconnect millions of unregistered SIMs from its network. President Jacob Zuma is in the country on a state visit, and the fine is understood to be on his agenda. Nigeria’s leader says that MTN assisted the terrorist group Boko Haram by not blocking the SIMs, and is partially responsible for thousands of deaths – which is why the group was fined.
- Hard times have hit South Africa, and consumers are suffering because of it. The country’s spending growth has slowed down to levels last seen in 2009 – and the prospects for 2016 are not looking great – while the country faces high unemployment, rising interest rates, a widening budget deficit and less investment from private companies.
- South Africa’s rand eased on Tuesday after data showed a widening current account deficit, while stocks were spooked by brittle Chinese trade figures that sent Kumba Iron Ore shares into a tailspin. On Wednesday, the rand was trading at R15.47 to the dollar, R21.93 to the pound and R16.97 to the euro.
- In global news, sharp losses in Chinese stocks pulled Asian equities further away from two-month highs on Wednesday, as weak trade figures from the world’s second-biggest economy and a retreat in oil prices revived concerns about global growth.
- Oil prices dipped on Wednesday, weighed down by a strengthening U.S.-dollar and concerns over slowing demand, although falling U.S. production lent crude markets some support. In local energy news, South Africa will give the green light in the next 12 months to companies looking to explore for shale gas under the semi-arid Karoo basin, the government said on Tuesday.
In other news: Corruption Watch conducted 10 investigations into allegations of corruption in schools during the past year – making it one of its corruption hotspots for 2015. The group said it received 1,128 reports of school corruption from the public during the year.