EXXARO: 16,531 +102 (+0.62%)
South African rand falls after poor data; equities flat
JOHANNESBURG, March 14 (Reuters) - The South African rand
fell on Thursday, hurt by subdued appetite for emerging market
assets and data showing that output in two key industrial
sectors of mining and manufacturing remained weak, while the
stock market ended flat.
At 1510 GMT the rand traded at 14.4850 per dollar,
0.5 percent weaker than its previous close.
Emerging market stocks and currencies slipped on Thursday as
concern over slowing growth reared its head again after data
showed that Chinese industrial output growth hit a 17-year low
in the first two months of 2019.
Locally, figures from Statistics South Africa showed mining
output contracted for the sixth time in eight months in
December, led by declines for gold, iron ore and coal
Manufacturing output, meanwhile, came close to a standstill,
expanding 0.3 percent on a yearly basis and contracting 2
percent from November, its worst month-on-month performance in a
"Today's figures suggest that the economy weakened at the
start of the year," said John Ashbourne, senior emerging markets
economist at Capital Economics.
"This run of weak data may – in combination with low
inflation – put pressure on the South African Reserve Bank to
cut its key policy rate."
South Africa's economy, Africa's most industrialised, grew
0.8 percent in 2018, with the Treasury forecasting 1.5 percent
expansion in 2019.
However, the nationwide electricity blackouts and subdued
spending by cash-strapped consumers and investors are viewed as
obstacles to President Cyril Ramaphosa's plans to revive growth.
Power utility Eskom resumed power cuts on Thursday after a
breakdown at its mammoth Kusile power plant project exacerbated
a shortfall in generating capacity.
In fixed income, the yield on the 2026 bond rose 4
basis points to 8.76 percent.
On the stock market, the Top-40 index was largely
unchanged, easing by 0.2 percent to 49,485 points, while the
broader all-share index ended flat at 55,789 points.
Shares in Exxaro Resources rose 4.3 percent to
156.49 rand after the mining company said its full-year earnings
climbed 7 percent, boosted by higher coal prices and the absence
of one-off transactions a year earlier.
(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo
Editing by David Goodman)
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