South African rand firms as pressure mounts on Zuma to quit, stocks fall

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand strengthened on Monday amid ongoing talks within the governing party regarding President Jacob Zuma’s future, while stocks fell to 4-month lows tracking global markets lower on fears that central banks will tighten policy.

At 1522 GMT, the rand ZAR=D3 was up 0.44 percent from its New York close on Friday to 12.0332 per dollar.

The rand lifted as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) met on Monday to discuss Zuma’s future amid growing pressure on the 75-year-old leader to step down as head of state over corruption allegations and a weakened economy.

The rand has tended to strengthen on signs that Zuma could step down before his second term as president ends next year.

Zuma has been in a weakened position since he was replaced as leader of the ANC in December by Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president.

“The political roulette continues. The market will continue to honour the fact that Ramaphosa has begun taking important decisions in the background,” Commerzbank analysts said in a research note.

Government bonds were slightly weaker, with the yield on the benchmark 2026 instrument up 1 basis points to 8.510 percent.

On the bourse, the All-Share index closed down 2.63 percent to 4-month lows of 57,114 points, while the benchmark Top-40 index fell 2.72 percent to 50,496 points, a level it last reached in October 2017.

South African-listed shares tracked global markets with European indexes opening lower as resurgent U.S. inflation raised the possibility central banks would tighten policy more aggressively than had been expected.

“We saw weakness in the U.S last week and that carried on to the Far East, and we carried on from there,” said Independent Securities trader Ryan Woods adding that South Africa-listed shares across the board have been soft.

Bourse heavy-weight Naspers fell 3.88 percent to 3120.00, MTN lowered 4.71 percent to 124.93 rand and Capitec weakened 6.45 percent to 864.66 rand.

(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg and Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Alison Williams)

Xolani

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