19 Jan

South Africa Holds Rate as Rand, Inflation Risks Persist

The South African Reserve Bank kept its benchmark lending rate unchanged for a third consecutive meeting as the risks of a credit-rating downgrade persist, muddying the outlook for the rand and inflation.

The central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee maintained the repurchase rate at 6.75 percent Thursday, in line with the estimates by all but seven of the 20 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The bank cut the rate for the first time in five years in July to support an economy that entered its second recession in almost a decade in the first quarter of 2017 and has struggled to mount a strong recovery.

Inflation has been inside the target band for eight months and the rand — among the world’s most-volatile currencies — has strengthened since the ruling party elected Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as its new leader in December, spurring hope that policy uncertainty and political turbulence will dissipate.

“We do see an improved inflation and growth outlook thanks to a stronger performance in the currency but a lot of risk factors still exist, both on the political front as well as on the credit-ratings front,” said Jeffrey Schultz, BNP Paribas’s senior economist.

S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings Ltd. cut the country’s debt to junk in 2017, and a reduction of rand bonds by Moody’s Investors Service could trigger an exclusion of the country’s rand debt from Citigroup Inc.’s World Government Bond Index.

The effect of this on rand bond yields “could be significant, but the extent to which a universal downgrade is already priced in remains unclear,” Governor Lesetja Kganyago told reporters in the capital, Pretoria. The government’s challenge is to “find ways to finance the deficit in a growth-positive manner, and at the same time convey a credible commitment to structural reforms.”

The bank expects inflation to remain within the target band of 3 percent to 6 percent until at least the end of 2019, reaching a low of 4.4 percent in the first quarter of this year.

To read the full article, click here.

12 Jan

South African Steinhoff Unit Mulls Early Redemption of Bonds

Steinhoff International Holdings NV said one of its South African units is considering an early redemption of all notes in issue as the global retailer struggles to stay afloat amid an accounting scandal.

Steinhoff Services Ltd.’s redemption of securities issued under a 15 billion-rand ($1.2 billion) bond program will require pricing supplements to be amended and restated, the Frankfurt- and Johannesburg-listed company said in a statement after the market closed on Thursday. The necessary approvals will have to be obtained, Steinhoff said, without giving more detail.

The parent company’s woes began on Dec. 5 when it said it had uncovered accounting irregularities and that Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste was resigning. Thereafter its bond yields spiked and its share price lost most of its value. Banks started to withdraw lines of credit and regulators from South Africa to Europe began to investigate. The stock fell 3.7 percent to 6.50 rand as of 9:36 a.m. in Johannesburg, extending its decline this week to 26 percent.

To raise liquidity the retailer has started parting with some assets it built up in a two-decade acquisition drive. French retailer Carrefour on Thursday said it acquired a 17 percent stake in Showroomprive from Steinhoff’s Conforama for 79 million euros ($95 million), while last week Steinhoff’s Austrian unit, Leiner Immobilien, sold its flagship store in Vienna for 60 million euros. Other measures to shore up finances include Steinhoff selling its Gulfstream 550 jet, while Jooste has been auctioning his racehorses.

With Steinhoff also having issued debt internationally, the European Central Banksaid earlier this week it had disposed of the company’s securities after they were downgraded to junk.

Pending Lawsuits

Steinhoff Services, the vehicle the retailer uses to sell listed bonds on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, has 12 notes in issue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Those securities amount to a total of 7.6 billion rand in debt. More than half of those sales took place last year with Steinhoff Services having sold 4.83 billion rand of bonds in 2017. It has three notes valued at a total of 1.4 billion rand maturing in 2018.

To read the full article, click here.

11 Jan

Africa: How Africa Can Ride On the Cryptocurrency Wave

ANALYSIS

Nairobi — Cryptocurrency to most people and institutions in Africa is a very big, and daunting word. Like all new technologies, the concept of digital currencies remains an abstract idea to a lot of people, ushering in change and attempts to alter the status quo.

But the truth is change happens, whether we are ready or not. Those who take advantage of the change wave, stand to benefit as early adopters.

The opportunity to once again take charge of our own destiny has been presented to us as Africans. The question now is not about cryptocurrency, the question is what are we going to do to harness the full power of this opportunity?

In the beginning of trade in Africa, we travelled across lands, and water to trade amongst ourselves. The farmers from the west had cocoa; the nomads from the north had camels and other resources. Each measured the value of their goods or service and agreed on the exchange. “Trade by batter was born”

Then gold came, and other valuable resources so people started using this as a form of trading, then we had promissory notes, which were convertible based on the value of gold, or silver the issuer of the gold had in their vault. All these evolved into what we now call money today, and the unit of that money we derive from either the dollar, euro, pound even yen at the minute.

Cryptocurrency has landed at our doorstep and it’s a scary thought. Let me first define cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency is defined as a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange, using cryptography to secure the transactions and to control the creation of additional units of the currency. Cryptocurrencies are classified as a subset of digital currencies and are also classified as a subset of alternative currencies and virtual currencies.

To read the full article, click here.

08 Jan

Angola Is Said to Plan Currency Sale Tuesday as It Ends Peg

Angola’s central bank will hold an auction on Tuesday to sell foreign currency to commercial banks, its first since saying it will abandon a dollar peg, according to three people familiar with knowledge of the matter.

The kwanza will probably be allowed to depreciate at the auction as the central bank shifts to a trading band, the people said, asking not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. About $100 million of foreign currency will be offered at the auction, one person added.

Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer, will join a long list of commodity exporters — from Russia to Egypt, Kazakhstan, Nigeria and Uzbekistan — that have floated or devalued currencies in a bid to end crippling shortages of foreign exchange and revive economic growth. The kwanza has been fixed at 166 against the dollar since April 2016, but trades at 430 per dollar in the black market.

The currency’s exchange rate will be determined at the auctions, the central bank said in a statement on its website on Jan. 4. A spokeswoman for the regulator said she had no information about Tuesday’s sale.

“There will be an exchange-rate adjustment with the kwanza losing about 15 percent of its value against the dollar,” said Tiago Dionisio, a Lisbon-based analyst for Eaglestone Advisory SA. “Once that adjustment happens, I expect the kwanza to trade between 190-210 per dollar in the foreseeable future.”

Dwindling Reserves

Central bank Governor Jose Massano said last week that the country’s dwindling foreign-exchange reserves triggered the end of a peg that “does not reflect the truth.” Reserves dipped to $14.2 billion in November from $15.4 billion in October, and are down from $20 billion at the start of 2017, according to the central bank.

To read the full article, click here.

02 Jan

From Angola to Zimbabwe: Guide to Key Africa Markets in 2018

For bond investors, Africa was a happy hunting ground last year. Its local-currency and dollar securities easily outperformed those of emerging markets overall as investors piled into a continent offering high yields and starting to recover from the commodity bust of three years ago.

Africa Outperformed

African bonds returned more than the emerging-market average last year but risks abound, among them policy tightening in advanced economies, local and global politics, weakening currencies and another fall in oil prices. And then there is credit risk.

Mozambique and Republic of Congo missed Eurobond payments in 2017, while countries including Cameroon and Zambia agreed or began talks on bailouts with the International Monetary Fund. And since Namibia and South Africa were downgraded to junk, the continent has been left without any investment-grade foreign-currency issuers.

Christine Lagarde, for one, thinks Africa’s debt problems “could very well” worsen in 2018 as the dollar appreciates and the U.S. raises interest rates, according to an interview with Quartz magazine in December. The IMF’s managing director said yield-hungry bond investors “were so eager to lend that I don’t think they were very serious about assessing the risks.”

Africa’s debt is already less attractive on a relative basis. U.S. 10-year yields rose to their highest in nine months two weeks ago, which narrowed African dollar-spreads to 352 basis points, around the lowest in three years, according to Standard Bank Group Ltd.

Read the full article here: From Angola to Zimbabwe: Guide to Key Africa Markets in 2018

 

 

28 Dec

Oil Trades Above $59 as Libyan Output Falls After Pipeline Blast

Oil traded above $59 a barrel as crude production in Libya fell below 1 million barrels a day after a pipeline explosion Tuesday.

Futures were little changed in New York after slipping for the first time in more than a week Wednesday. While the halt at the pipeline that carries crude to Libya’s biggest export terminal will keep output below the cap it agreed to last month, it is said to need about a week for repairs.

Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute was said to report U.S. inventories dropped last week. Government data is also forecast to show stockpiles declined.

Oil is heading for a second yearly advance as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners including Russia extended supply curbs through the end of 2018. The disruption in the North African nation lifted prices to the highest level in more than two years on Tuesday, offsetting the impact from the return of a major U.K. North Sea pipeline after a shutdown.

“Oil’s rally on the pipeline explosion in Libya may be short-lived as it’s been reported that the repair may not take too much time,” Kim Yumi, a Seoul-based market strategist at Kiwoom Securities Co., said by phone. “We will continue to see prices easing and then being elevated again because while falling stockpiles support prices, rising U.S. production will restrain any increase.”

West Texas Intermediate for February delivery was at $59.82 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 18 cents, at 8:37 a.m. in London. Total volume traded was about 35 percent below the 100-day average. The contract dropped 33 cents to $59.64 Wednesday.

Brent for February settlement, which expires Thursday, added 20 cents to $66.64 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange after falling 0.9 percent Wednesday. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $6.83 to WTI. The more-active March contract was 21 cents higher at $66.20.

To read the full article, click here.

20 Dec

Rand’s Ramaphosa Rally May Run Out of Steam

The South African rand’s surge lasted only as long as it took Cyril Ramaphosa to get himself to the top of the nation’s ruling party.

Now that he has, the currency’s world-beating rally is losing steam, and derivatives markets suggest it’s vulnerable to a renewed selloff.

The rand has climbed 13 percent against the dollar since hitting a one-year low on Nov. 13, as investors bet that Ramaphosa would defeat his rival, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to take over the African National Congress and put himself in prime position to succeed Jacob Zuma as president in 2019.

The nation’s stocks and bonds rose on Tuesday, the day after Ramaphosa’s win, and extended gains on Wednesday. But the rand traded sideways, suggesting investors want to see improvements to South Africa’s long-term prospects before increasing their exposure to an economy that’s barely growing and at risk of having its debt downgraded further into junk territory.

“The market has got ahead of itself as the victory of Ramaphosa does not spell the end of South Africa’s issues,” Guillaume Tresca, an emerging market strategist at Credit Agricole CIB in Paris, said Tuesday. “It’s facing a turbulent period in the near future, which will make its assets vulnerable. Moreover, the medium- to long-term outlook is still not positive for the rand.”

Tresca recommended shorting the currency against the dollar and targeting a 6.4 percent drop to 13.61. The rand retreated 0.2 percent to 12.7273 per dollar by 11:03 a.m. in Johannesburg.

To read the full article, click here.

19 Dec

South African Stocks Rally as Ramaphosa Seen as Watershed

South Africa’s benchmark stocks index had their biggest rally since March following the ascent of the business and investor-friendly Cyril Ramaphosa to leader of the ruling African National Congress, removing an overhang that had weighed on market sentiment.

The FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index rose as much as 1.6 percent and was 1.5 percent higher as of 10:45 a.m. in Johannesburg. Household goods shares, banks, insurers, retailers and other domestically focused companies led gains on the gauge. The FTSE/JSE Africa Banks Index jumped 7.2 percent to a record, the FTSE/JSE Life Insurance Index climbed to the highest level since August 2015 and the FTSE/JSE Africa General Retailers Index advanced the most in two years.

“The removal of a degree of political uncertainty is a significant potential catalyst for relative recovery in South African performance and for a better-than-expected earnings outcome for the domestic earners in 2018,” Morgan Stanley analysts including Mary Curtis and Andrea Masia wrote in a note.

“Valuations still look cheap enough on an absolute and a relative basis for the JSE to continue to rally,” they said. “The best relative value shows up in South African banks and retailers, while multiples for South African industrials and the South African property sector look less appealing compared to cross-border peers.”

While Ramaphosa’s election may be a watershed for South Africa, considerable uncertainty remains, according to John Orford, portfolio manager at Old Mutual Investment Group.

“Firstly, because Cyril Ramaphosa will not be president of the country until Jacob Zuma steps down or until the next general election in 2019, his immediate ability to influence policy is uncertain,” Orford said. Moody’s Investors Service could also still downgrade South Africa’s credit ratings to junk, he said. “If this happens, it could trigger an outflow of capital from the country’s bond market, putting pressure on the rand and bond yields.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-19/south-african-stocks-rally-as-ramaphosa-seen-as-watershed

18 Dec

South African Rand Near 3-Month High on Ramaphosa Vote Optimism

South Africa’s rand fluctuated near a three-month high against the dollar and bond yields fell as traders bet Cyril Ramaphosa is poised to become the next leader of the ruling African National Congress.

Ramaphosa, one of the wealthiest black South Africans, has pledged to revive the struggling economy and stamp out corruption. His opponent, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has echoed President Jacob Zuma’s call for “radical economic transformation” to redistribute wealth to the black majority, a shift investors fear may blow out the budget deficit and spark rating downgrades.

The South African currency gained as much as 1.5 percent before trading 0.3 percent weaker at 13.1337 per dollar as of 10:04 a.m. in Johannesburg, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Overnight implied volatility soared to a record 73 percent, suggesting traders are hedging for a large swing after the result, which may be announced Monday.

“Our base case of a win for Ramaphosa appears still to be on track, though there remains sufficient uncertainty in the process for caution to be exercised,” Zaakirah Ismail, a strategist at Standard Bank Group Ltd. in Johannesburg, wrote in a client note. “Volatility is also still at multi-year highs, implying that the currency is geared up for a sharp move after the winner is announced.”

Yields on benchmark government bonds due December 2026 dropped 14 basis points, the most since October, to 9.02 percent.

Long-Term Risks

The rand’s 4.1 percent gain over the past five days will probably not be sustained even in the event of a Ramaphosa victory as the country’s economic challenges won’t disappear, said Tsutomu Soma, general manager of the IFA department at SBI Securities in Tokyo.

“This isn’t likely to be a long-term strong rand trend,” Soma said. “Ramaphosa’s victory is seen as better than Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, but it will probably not improve the nation’s problems drastically, including fiscal positions. In the long run, the rand doesn’t look so attractive.”

Traders added bearish bets on the currency over the next three month, with the premium of options to sell the rand over those to buy it rising eight basis points to 2.83 percentage points in the past week.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-17/south-africa-s-rand-reaches-3-month-high-as-anc-prepares-to-vote

11 Dec

Kenya Opposition Delays Plan to Swear-In Leader as President

Kenya’s main opposition alliance postponed indefinitely plans to swear-in its leader as president of a so-called People’s Assembly, after the government warned such a step would amount to treason.

A ceremony that was to be held in the port city of Mombasa Dec. 12 was called off after “extensive internal consultations and engagement with a wide range of national and international interlocutors,” the National Super Alliance said in an emailed statement Sunday. The U.S. State Department last week urged the opposition to call off the event.

“We shall be announcing the new dates of both the swearing-in ceremony and the launch of the People’s Assembly as well as a more vigorous and prolonged resistance in the coming days,” the alliance said.

Nasa, as the opposition coalition is known, called for the People’s Assembly in October, after it rejected that month’s presidential-election rerun won by incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta. Alliance leader Raila Odinga, who refused to participate in the vote, rejected the outcome as a sham because the electoral authority failed to implement reforms his alliance demanded to ensure a fair vote.

Kenyan Attorney-General Githu Muigai warned on Dec. 7 that any attempt to form a People’s Assembly would constitute treason, a crime that carries the death penalty. U.S. acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto met Odinga last week to urge him to avoid “extra-constitutional actions” such as the planned inauguration ceremony, according to a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

The People’s Assembly’s main objective was to push for new elections next year, Nasa said last week. Failing that, the opposition said it would consider supporting the secession of parts of the country.

“We remain fully on course in pursuit of electoral justice,” the alliance said Sunday. “Our resistance of dictatorship is resolute and irreversible. We remind the NASA fraternity to maintain our civic and economic resistance. There are only two options — democracy or self-determination.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-10/kenyan-opposition-delays-indefinitely-plans-to-swear-in-leader 

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