Bargain-hunters snap up SA stocks as coronavirus hits JSE; gold; UK visa perk

By Jackie Cameron

  • On a grim day for global equities, South African stocks have been hit harder than most of their emerging-market peers, says Bloomberg. Shares tumbled worldwide and China’s yuan hit a 2020 low as worries grew about the impact of the virus after the world’s second-biggest economy ramped up travel bans and extended the Lunar New Year holidays, says Reuters. “We are in very close communication with China concerning the virus,” tweeted Trump, who waged a bruising 18-month trade war with Beijing. Gold climbed 1% to a near three-week high on Monday as mounting concerns over the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak sent investors scurrying for safe havens, says the news agency.
  • Retailer Woollies is set to release disappointing financial statements. Half-year earnings at South Africa’s Woolworths could drop by as much as 20%, It shares slumped on the news. The company, which sells food, clothing and homeware, said an accounting change had compounded the decline, but also pointed to another drop in sales at its struggling Australian businesses and slow trade during the critical December period, points out Reuters.
  • Foreign investors have been snapping up SA equities. Offshore investors bought a net R1.97 billion of JSE stocks last week, data from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange showed on Monday.
  • Zimbabwe makes businesses pay tax in forex, but earn money in Zim currency. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is clamping down on companies conducting business in foreign currency but paying tax in Zimbabwe dollars. The southern African nation reintroduced the local dollar in June last year as sole legal tender and banned the widespread use of foreign currencies, mainly the US dollar. While the tourism, mining and oil industries were granted exemptions to conduct trade in foreign currency, the tax body said some businesses were flouting the law. Taxes, including pay-as-you-earn, value-added tax, income tax, capital-gains tax and mining royalties must now all be settled in foreign currency, Zimra said in a statement on Monday. “Foreign currency means the US dollar, euro, British pound, South African rand, Botswana pula and any other foreign currency denominated under the Exchange Control Order,” it said.
  • Talented South African academics in scientific fields and researchers are likely to find it easy to secure jobs, and residency, in the UK when Britain leaves the EU. Britain will begin fast-tracking visas for leading scientists and researchers next month once it has left the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday. Britain will leave the EU on Friday, drawing a line under years of debate about whether the country will be better off outside the bloc, and beginning the process of redefining its economy, its national priorities and its place in the world, points out Reuters. “As we leave the EU I want to send a message that the UK is open to the most talented minds in the world, and stand ready to support them to turn their ideas into reality,” Johnson is reported as saying.
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