Business news headlines: Tumisang Ndlovu – Moneyweb

Government has dismissed reports of an imminent total blackout.

SIKI MGABADELI: Good evening and welcome to the SAfm Market Update with Moneyweb. My name is Siki Mgabadeli, coming to you live from Cape Town at the Investing in African Mining Indaba.
   On the show today, construction group Group Five posted a 47% decline in first-half fully diluted headline earnings per share. They are blaming retrenchment costs and a weak performance by their civil engineering department. So my colleague Tumisang Ndlovu speaks to them.
   Then the mining industry is watching how government is going to deal with regulations. The Chamber of Mines says the amendments in the Act were negotiated in good faith. We will be speaking to the CEO of the South African Chamber of Mines, Bheki Sibiya.
   Staying with the Mining Indaba, as you know the industry is under increasing pressure to find new and better ways to uplift the communities in which it operates. So today we are going to look at the role that mining companies can play in supporting small businesses on the continent.
   David Shapiro of Sasfin is watching the markets for us today. But first, Tumisang Ndlovu has your business news headlines.

TUMISANG NDLOVU: Thanks, Siki. Good evening.
   Expectations are high that President Jacob Zuma will reveal government’s exact plan to rescue Eskom from its power-supply and financial woes during his 2015 State of the Nation Address. Just yesterday, amid more load-shedding, government sought to dismiss reports of an imminent total blackout, calling the warning a hoax. Eskom has now implemented Stage 2 of load-shedding on a third consecutive day of blackouts this week.
   Still on the State of the Nation Address, Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi says an important announcement on development pricing can be expected tomorrow when the President delivers his address. This emerged at the Mining Indaba under way in Cape Town where the minister addressed concerns around the Mineral & Petroleum Resources Amendment bill. Earlier this year the President sent the bill back to parliament, saying it failed to meet constitutional muster.
   Trade activity increased to 62 points in January, according to StatsSA’s latest Trade Activity Index. Sales volumes were subsequently higher in January due to seasonal lower inter-business trade during the December holidays. The Chamber has warned that current electricity constraints pose a negative threat to trade.
   And trade union federation Cosatu says the drop in South Africa’s unemployment rate means little when 4.9m people remain unemployed. Statistics SA released its quarterly Labour Force Survey yesterday, indicating a 1.1% drop in the unemployment rate, which now stands at 24.3%. Cosatu’s Patrick Craven has cautiously welcomed the news that 242 000 people were employed in the last quarter of 2014.

PATRICK CRAVEN: No sooner had that quarter finished than we were struck with load-shedding and, although there is no reliable information, it seems highly probable that either jobs will be lost or at the very least jobs that might have been created will not be created.

TUMISANG NDLOVU: Financial indicators this hour: the rand is struggling today, trading at R11.86/dollar, R18.06/pound and R13.40/euro. Gold is trading at $1 224.86/oz, platinum at $1 198.63/oz and Brent crude oil at $54.63/barrel.

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