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#RandReport: Rand gains on Ramaphosa win

The rand rose on Wednesday, buoyed by as positive sentiment from the election of ruling party leader Cyril Ramaphosa.

FILE: Newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa is seen on 19 December as he embarks on a walk about of stalls selling ANC regalia and well as other business stalls located in the hall of the Progressive Business Forum. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s rand rose on Wednesday, buoyed by as positive sentiment from the election of ruling party leader Cyril Ramaphosa.

Stocks were barely changed as investors took profits from shares that climbed on the back of Ramaphosa’s victory, while Steinhoff dropped sharply in the wake of more bad news in the aftermath of the firm’s accounting irregularities.

Ramaphosa, who is South Africa’s deputy president, was elected the new leader of the African National Congress (ANC) on Monday, succeeding President Jacob Zuma - whose presidency has been tainted with corruption allegations - as party head.

Expectations that Ramaphosa would win the ANC race had pushed the rand to 12.5200 per dollar on Monday, its firmest since 27 March, before a Cabinet reshuffle by Zuma rocked markets and triggered credit ratings downgrades to “junk”.

By 15.25 GMT on Wednesday, the rand was up 0.2% 12.6550 per dollar, just off its nearly nine-month highs scaled earlier this week.

“It is still just optimism about the elective conference,” said chief currency dealer at TreasuryOne Wichard Cilliers, referring to the five-day ANC meeting to elect new officials.

However further gains have been held back by investor fears that Ramaphosa may not be able to push through policy changes because the ANC’s top decision-making group, known as the “Top Six”, was split down the middle, consisting of three politicians apiece drawn from Ramaphosa’s camp and that of his rival Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

“Uncertainty about the political course remains correspondingly high and the ZAR (rand) is fragile,” said Commerzbank analysts in a note.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 rose 5 basis points to 8.615%, reflecting weaker bond prices.

On the bourse, the benchmark Top-40 index closed unchanged at 51,269 points while the All-Share index dipped 0.24% to 58,032 points. “Some of the banks have run up quite a lot so in the short term you might see a little bit of profit-taking,” said Afrifocus securities portfolio manager Ferdi Heyneke.

The banking sector fell 2.2%, with Barclays Africa down 5.31% to R181.10 and Standard Bank falling 3.35% to R191.26 after the sector rallied on Monday as investors priced-in a Ramaphosa win.

Further losses came from South African listed Steinhoff as the stock fell 34.00% to R4.62 after the firm said it had started to lose credit lines from lenders and was still unable to determine the scale of accounting irregularities.