Here’s what is happening in the markets:
- Despite repeated statements that finance minister Pravin Gordhan is not under investigation by the Hawks, the special unit has now started questioning staffers who work closely with the minister. The Hawks have said that they are investigating the so-called Rogue SARS unit, not Gordhan, but arrest rumours and talk of further investigation into the finmin will not go away.
- There is a possible stand-off over the legality of the department of energy selling R5 billion worth of reserve oil stocks, as neither the department, nor Treasury are willing to give a straight answer on whether the action required permission. Government sold 10 million barrels of oil at $28 a barrel, drawing criticism from all sectors – especially given the fact oil recent hit over $50 a barrel.
- South Africa’s rand weakened against the dollar on Friday as credit ratings downgrade fears weighed on sentiment, coupled with subdued risk appetite globally as investors prepared for a likely hike in US interest rates. On Monday the rand was trading at R15.78 to the dollar, R23.07 to the pound and R17.54 to the euro.
- In global news, Asian shares slipped on Monday while the dollar marked fresh highs after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen suggested that an interest rate hike could be around the corner. Wall Street rose on Friday and capped off its strongest week since March after US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said an interest-rate hike would likely be appropriate “in the coming months.”
- Oil prices dipped on Monday as a strong dollar weighed on markets and Canadian oil sands production was expected to increase this week. Crude markets, however, did receive some support from the start of the US summer driving season. US crude futures were trading at $49.21 per barrel, down 12 cents from their last settlement. International Brent futures were at $49.11 a barrel, down 21 cents.
In other news: Following the news that the SABC will no longer show “violent” protest on TV, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has called for the policy to be widely adopted by other media outlets as well. The ANC government has denied that the move was a form of censorship.