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Five things making headlines in South Africa today

Sasol and South32 production review, March PPI, wholesale trade and motor trade sales report, rand update.

Here’s what caught our attention on Thursday:

1.Sasol production and sales metrics

Energy company Sasol published its production and sales metric for the nine months ended March 31 2019, in which it reports an improved and stable quarterly production and sales performance. Sasol says its Lake Charles Chemical Project is progressing, while mining productivity continues to track towards targeted production levels, improving 10% from the previous year, adding that mining production levels may reach approximately 38 million tons for the year. Higher average crude oil prices and the weaker exchange rate benefitted the energy business and group.

2.March PPI

South Africa’s producer price index for March is expected to be released on Thursday. In February, PPI increased to 4.7% year on year after a 4.1% gain in January and above market expectations of 4.6%. According to data from Trading Economics, prices increased for food, beverages and tobacco; coke, petroleum, chemicals; rubber, plastic, paper and printed products among others. Prices however eased for industrials like metals, machinery, computer and transport equipment and electrical machinery.

Update to follow.

3. South32 quarterly report

Mining company South32 says its net cash increased to US$ 726 million from US$ 48 million despite an increase in working capital during the quarter ended March 2019 and maintained FY19 operating unit cost guidance for all its operations, this includes its Illawarra Metallurgical Coal unit, at its Cannington unit and its Hillside Aluminium and Mozal Aluminium units despite an increase in load shedding, the company says. Production guidance was reduced for its Worsley Alumina unit by 4% and the South Africa Energy Coal, after community protests and a slower than expected ramp-up of activity at Klipspruit following an insurable dragline outage. CEO Graham Kerr says the divestment of South Africa Energy Coal is on track with binding bids expected in the June 2019 quarter.

4.Wholesale trade and motor sales

Statistics SA will release its February 2019 reports on wholesale trade sales and motor trade sales on Thursday. The February findings in wholesale trade sales showed an increase by 0.9% in real terms, year on year. While seasonally adjusted wholesale trade sales increased by 3.7% in January compared with December 2018.

Motor trade sales also increased by 0.8% in nominal terms, year-on-year  in January 2019. According to StatsSA, positive annual growth rates were recorded for used vehicle sales, workshop income, sales of accessories and convenience store sales.

Updates to follow.

5.Rand update

The local currency did not suffer a bad week especially after China released upbeat manufacturing data, which improved sentiment across markets. Locally, consumer price inflation rose to 4.5% from 4.1% in February, lower than the Sarb’s target range,  while retail sales increased by 1.1% from January. On Thursday, the rand was at R14.03 to the dollar at 8:49, ahead of March PPI figures.  

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