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Five things making headlines today

Banks make staff cuts, ARC results, load shedding returns and more.

Here are some of the stories that caught our attention on Thursday:

1. Banks ‘quietly’ making staff cuts

Three of the country’s five largest banks have been quietly cutting staff, particularly in retail units, to drive down stubbornly high cost-to-income ratios. In the past year Absa, Nedbank and Standard Bank have cut over 2 200 staff in their South African operations – across retail, corporate and investment banking (CIB) and wealth units. Meanwhile, FirstRand and Capitec are adding staff.

Read more here

2. African Rainbow Capital results

Empowerment investment holding company African Rainbow Capital (ARC) released interim results for the six months ended December 31, 2018 on Thursday amid a slew of company reports that reflect a challenging operating environment in SA. The country’s pedestrian growth took a toll on the company, who only managed to grow its intrinsic NAV by 1% to R9.6 billion. “Certainly, we are not satisfied with this performance,” says co-CEO Johan van Zyl.

Read the full Sens announcement here

3. Load shedding risk

Eskom announced on Thursday that it will implement around 1 000MW of power cuts due to a shortage of generating capacity. The power utility issued warnings earlier in the week to say the grid was constrained and the risk of load shedding remained high but that it would only be implemented if ‘absolutely necessary’. The power utility is appealing to energy consumers to use electricity sparingly considering the constraints. 

Read: Eskom cuts power after Kusile unit trips

4. Mining, manufacturing data

South Africa’s manufacturing output rose by 0.3% year-on-year after a flat reading of 0% in December, Stats SA said on Thursday. Mining production declined by 3.3% y/y in January from a 4.1% fall in December, dragged down mainly by decreases in the production of iron ore, gold, diamonds, coal and chromium.

5. Facebook, Instagram suffer global outage

Facebook is undergoing one of its most widespread and persistent system outages, with users across the globe unable to access its social network and services from Instagram to Messenger for much of Wednesday. Bloomberg is reporting that Instagram is back up but that the Facebook app is still experiencing issues. 

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