Rand hit by Moody’s; SpaceX tourist ploy; Musk-Gates electric spat; Glencore; Ecsponent

By Jackie Cameron

  • South Africa’s rising country risk is putting upward pressure on interest rates, even as inflation expectations decline, with credit-rating companies contributing to the negative sentiment, according to the central bank, says Bloomberg. The rand smashed through R15 to the dollar as the news was absorbed. Moody’s on Monday cut its 2020 GDP growth for South Africa to 0.7%, partly because of widespread power cuts and their impact on manufacturing and mining activity. The ratings agency left South Africa on the brink of “junk” status in November last year after it revised the outlook on the country’s last investment-grade credit rating to “negative”, reports Reuters.
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX will fly up to four paying customers aboard its Crew Dragon under an agreement that opens the way for private space tourism. Space Adventures, a booking agent based in Washington DC, did not specify any price for the private orbital flights when it announced the arrangement Tuesday, say Bloomberg, pointing out that it has previously arranged several tourist flights aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. “This historic mission will forge a path to making spaceflight possible for all people who dream of it, and we are pleased to work with the Space Adventures’ team on the mission,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement.
  • South Africa-born Musk is provoking a Twitter spat with Microsoft founder Bill Gates, as he is disappointed after Gates bought a Porsche Taycan instead of a Tesla electric car. A Taycan exploded in a Florida garage a few days ago, so perhaps Gates is having second thoughts. Musk reportedly criticised the Microsoft billionaire in a tweet sent Tuesday, claiming his conversations with the Microsoft founder had been “underwhelming.” Musk made the remark after an unofficial Tesla news account expressed disappointment with Gates’ recent decision to buy a Porsche Taycan instead of a Tesla. Porsche, says Bloomberg, confirmed one of its new Taycan electric cars has caught fire in the garage of a US customer, marking the first such incident since Volkswagen AG’s sports car division started deliveries of the four-door sedan last year.
  • Climate change and rock-bottom gas prices are taking a toll on Glencore’s coal business, but it’s not going to cut loose from the energy source as BHP and Anglo American are planning to do. The collapse of European coal demand is not just a headache for Glencore. BHP Group, the biggest mining company, and Anglo American are looking to exit the business, says Bloomberg. For now, Glencore has no plans to follow its rivals and quit coal, not even its struggling Colombian mines. “As long as they continue to generate a return, then we’ll continue to deplete those resources,” Chief Financial Officer Steven Kalmin is reported as saying.
  • Apple shares fell on Tuesday, after the company confirmed that the coronavirus crisis has knocked its sales targets this quarter. The news was not a surprise, though, as the iPhone maker has been grappling with the virus for several weeks, and the fallout has resulted in some manufacturing delays and closed retail stores in China, says Bloomberg.
  • Investors look set to lose millions as Ecsponent, a company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, runs into trouble. Ecsponent attracted about R2.5bn from retail investors. For more on that, listen to the podcast with BizNews founder and editor-in-chief Alec Hogg, personal finance book author and Brenthurst Wealth Management founder Magnus Heystek, available on BizNews Premium.