Here’s what is happening in the markets:
- Following a reprieve from ratings agencies – and some shocking GDP data – finance minister Pravin Gordhan and deputy president Cyril Ramaphose say that the time has come to stop talking and to start doing. The finmin has called for the immediate implementation of growth policies, while Ramaphosa echoed his sentiments for “decisive action” to save the economy.
- If being hit by a drought was not enough, South Africa’s grain sector now faces strike action from workers. About 3,000 employees at South Africa’s biggest grain processing and logistics companies may start a strike on Friday, after wage talks collapsed. Workers are demanding a 9% increase in wages. The sector needs R16.6 billion to cover losses and cover companies suffering from the adverse economic and weather conditions.
- South Africa’s rand rose to its firmest in five weeks on Wednesday and government bonds also gained after ratings agency Fitch affirmed the country’s investment grade credit status. Stocks fell, led by insurer Sanlam, the biggest loser among bluechips, due to slow growth in its markets. On Thursday the rand was at R14.78 to the dollar, R21.44 to the pound and R16.84 to the euro.
- In global news: Asian stocks turned lower on Thursday, led by sliding Japanese equities, while a weaker dollar buoyed commodities such as gold and crude oil. The Dow ended above 18,000 for the first time since April on Wednesday as declines in the dollar lifted some commodity-related shares and boosted the outlook for multinationals.
- Oil prices remained near 2016 highs in early trading on Thursday, buoyed by a fall in US crude inventories, a weaker dollar and strong demand, but some analysts warned that the recent rally was starting to look overblown. Brent crude was trading at $52.70 per barrel, up 19 cents, while US crude was 32 cents higher at $51.55 a barrel.
In other news: Controversial SABC COO has more in store for the public broadcaster; following censorship of all negative news and media coverage, the COO is now also considering the implementation of uniforms for all staff at the group. This way, employees can “understand unity” he said.