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Rand firmer, Naspers drags bourse to 1-week low

Stocks down more than 1%.

The rand was firmer on Wednesday as emerging market currencies benefited from renewed demand for riskier assets after the sudden dismissal of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sunk the dollar.

At 1400 GMT the rand was 0.25% firmer at 11.78 per dollar, slightly lower than the session best of 11.73, as US President Donald Trump’s firing of Tillerson hurt recent optimism about growth in the world’s largest economy.

The greenback was also dragged down by an unexpectedly drop in retail sales.

Demand for the rand was also sustained by business confidence figures showing the index rose to 45 points in the first quarter from 34 points in the fourth quarter.

New President Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as leader of the ruling African National Congress in December, and as head of state last month, has raised expectations that the country will make economic reforms, lifting local assets.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 rose 1.5 basis point to 8.095%.

In the equities market, stocks fell to a one-week low, dragged down by market-heavyweight entertainment and technology firm Naspers.

“The Index is down on account of Naspers. I think Naspers is under pressure because investors are finally realising that they don’t actually own any assets or intellectual property in Tencent,” said BP Bernstein trader Vasili Girasis.

The Johannesburg All Share index fell 1.12% to 58 423 points, a level it last reached on March 7, while the Top 40 Index weakened 1.11% to 51 788 points.

Naspers, which owns 33% in China’s tech giant Tencent, weakened 1.20% to R3 538.

Information Technology services and consulting firm EOH hit a three-week low, down 20.98% to R59.50 after it flagged a up to 25% decline in half-year headline earnings per share.

Gold stocks edged lower in line with a weaker bullion price, with that index down 1.18%. 


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