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Five things making headlines in South Africa today

Eskom implements stage 3 load shedding, unemployment and manufacturing output, Harmony Gold results, rand update.

Here’s what caught our attention on Tuesday:

1. Load shedding escalates

Eskom has begun to implement stage 3 load shedding on Tuesday, due to high demand and urgent maintenance being performed at certain power stations. South Africa has been affected by widespread load shedding since Sunday, after Eskom announced it  was suffering from a capacity shortage. On Monday, stage 4 load shedding was implemented after six additional generating units unexpectedly went offline. Public enterprises minister, Pravin Gordhan met with Eskom executives on Monday to find solutions to the issue, Eskom said.

The load shedding schedule can be accessed here.

Read: Medupi units drowning in ash as contractor forced to withdraw

2. Unemployment data Q4

South Africa’s unemployment rate fell to 27.1% in the fourth quarter from 27.5% in the third quarter, data from Stats SA showed on Tuesday. Employment rose in the finance, private households, manufacturing and mining sectors.

3. December Manufacturing output

Manufacturing output rose by 0.1% year on year in December, following a revised 1.3% increase in November. On a month-on-month basis factory production rose by 0.7% in December, Statistics South Africa said on Tuesday.  

4. Harmony Gold interim results

Gold mining company, Harmony Gold is reporting a 34% increase in production, boosted by Moab Khotsong and Hidden Valley, for the six months ended December 31, 2018. Headline earnings per share however decreased by 94% to 14 cents from 224 cents reported in 2017, and basic earnings per share decreased to 15 cents from 203 cents in 2017. The company is reporting above a 100% increase in free cash flow to R1.1 billion, from operations.

5. Rand update

The rand is not having the best time right now, as load shedding woes dump it into negative gains. On Monday, Reuters reported that the rand had reached a near three-week low of R13.76 at 14:56. Trader at Unum Capital, Michael Porter told Reuters “the weakness you’re seeing now is certainly linked to the power cuts”. The rand’s losses were not reversed and it is struggling to buoy off any positive news that South Africa could breed. On Tuesday, the rand was at R13.79 at 8:38.

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