Here’s what is happening in the markets:
- South Africa’s bid to draw investors back to its shores is paying off, with R93 billion of investment in the pipeline for 2016, the department of trade and industry says. Investor confidence in the country took a knock at the end of 2015 when president Zuma fired finance minister Nhlanhla Nene. Current finmin Pravin Gordhan was left with the challenge of ‘selling’ the country back to investors at the start of the year.
- Staff at Gupta-owned companies are distancing themselves from a letter sent in their name, appealing to banks to re-open accounts for the family’s businesses. The letter said that employees were at risk of losing their jobs because the companies could not pay them and faced closure. At a meeting set up to address the issue, staff denied the letter came from them. It is understood the letter was penned by two executives on behalf of employees.
- South Africa’s rand remained on the frontfoot on Wednesday, rallying for a third consecutive session after data showing consumer inflation had slowed, easing pressure on the ailing economy. On Thursday the currency was trading at R14.24 to the dollar, R20.42 to the pound and R16.09 to the euro.
- In global news, Asian shares held near 5-1/2-month highs on Thursday as oil prices rallied over 4% overnight thanks to a smaller than expected increase in US crude inventories and abiding hopes that producers may eventually agree ways to ease a global glut.
- Crude prices fell early on Thursday as concerns over a global glut took centre stage after Russia and Iran said they were ready to raise oil production further, while inventories in the United States climbed slightly. Brent crude futures rose to $46.10 a barrel, up 30 US cents from their last close. US crude futures were at $44.43 a barrel, up 25 US cents.
In other news: US coffee giant Starbucks has officially launched in South Africa, with its first store open on the corner of Tyrwhitt and Cradock Avenues in Rosebank, Gauteng. The group’s local offering has been competitively prices, well within the range of other brands, and far from the “premium” prices many were expecting.