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Five things making headlines in South Africa today

Sarb interest rate decision due, Zondo commission adjourns for the day, Liberty and Kumba Iron Ore trading updates, Ford SA adds 1 200 jobs.

Happy Mandela Day South Africa. 

Here’s what caught our attention on Thursday:

1. Sarb interest rate decision due 

An interest rate cut could be on the cards as the South African Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee is set to announce its interest rate decision on Thursday. The MPC opted to keep the interest rate unchanged at 6.75% at the last four meetings. A poll conducted by Reuters showed that a majority of economists foresee a rate cut of 25 basis points to 6.50%, saying the economy could contract further if left unchecked.

The decision will be announced at 3pm.

Read: Reserve Bank expected to cut rates on July 18

2. Zondo commission adjourns 

The state capture inquiry has adjourned until Friday, following protests from former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyers who objected to the panel’s line of questioning, Bloomberg is reporting.

The former president’s lawyers say the commission’s panel should not cross-examine Zuma based on evidence given by former witnesses, especially if he is not directly implicated in corruption and fraud. The commission agreed to give both the panel and Zuma’s lawyers time off on Thursday to find common ground to ensure proceedings could continue.

Read:

State capture inquiry adjourns after Zuma objection

Did Zuma influence the appointment of SOE execs?

3. Liberty expects earnings increase

Financial services firm, Liberty sees headline earnings per share increasing by between 45% and 55% to 698.9 cents and 741. 1 cents per ordinary share for the six months ended June 30, 2019. The company published its trading statement for the period on Thursday, saying its shareholder investment portfolio benefitted from improved investment market returns, especially with regard to equities, during the period. Liberty expects to release its interim results on August 1, 2019.

Read: Liberty sees H1 earnings to rise

4. Kumba Iron Ore production report

Mining company Kumba Iron Ore is expecting headline earnings per share to increase by between 228% and 245% to R30.52 and R32.10 for the six months ended June 30, 2019. This, it says, is largely attributable to the higher average realised free on board export iron ore prices and a weaker rand/dollar exchange rate.

In its production and sales report, Kumba iron ore is reporting an 11% decrease in total production to 20.1 Mt for the period and a 2% increase in export sales to 19.9 Mt, while total sales for the first half increased by 1.0% to 21.3 Mt. The company says these figures are partly due to an improvement in rail performance which enabled it to meet demand.

5. Ford South Africa adds 1 200 jobs

Demand for the new Ford Ranger has resulted in an additional 1 200 new jobs being created at the carmaker’s Silverton plant in Pretoria through the addition of a third shift. 

Moneyweb is reporting that the introduction of the third shift followed the investment of R3 billion in the production capacity of the plant since 2017 and the R11 billion invested in the plant between 2009 and last year.

The vice president of the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa, Ockert Berry says the investments reaffirmed the company’s commitment to South Africa. 

Read: Ford adds 1 200 new jobs on new Ranger demand

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