Sasol behind JSE’s best quarter in 19 years; SA GDP; Zim security bosses behind bank freeze

By Jackie Cameron

  • South African stocks are about to round off their strongest quarter in almost two decades, with Sasol leading the pack with a staggering gain of more than 270%. DRD Gold was next best performer, gaining 155%, Fortress Reit, RMB Holdings and Famous Brands were next with gains of about 85%, while Gold Fields and Harmony were also among the top 10. The FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index has climbed 22% since the start of April, its best performance over any quarter since 2001, says Reuters. Emerging-market stocks, heading for their biggest gains since 2009, are up 18%. South Africa’s benchmark ranks eighth over the period among 93 major global indexes tracked by Bloomberg as of Monday’s close. It’s within 5% of erasing 2020’s losses.
  • South Africa’s recession deepened in the first quarter of 2020, with official data on Tuesday showing that gross domestic product contracted 2% from the previous three months. This was led by declines in mining and manufacturing, reports Reuters. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has severely curtailed economic activity in South Africa as elsewhere, means the outlook remains gloomy. The Treasury sees GDP contracting by 7.2% this year. A strict nationwide lockdown from late March has been partially eased to allow key sectors like mining and retail to resume operations.
  • Zimbabwe’s security force leaders are behind the sudden closure of the country’s stock market and a block on bank accounts. That’s according to Bloomberg, which says Zimbabwe’s security force leaders sidelined the nation’s economic chiefs and forced the government to close the stock exchange and halt most mobile-money transactions, people familiar with the situation said. The June 26 order that sought to stabilize the nation’s currency came after pressure from the Joint Operations Command and was made without notifying the central bank, which regulates the mobile-money industry through which almost all of Zimbabwe’s commerce takes place, the people said. They asked not to be identified because the role of the JOC hasn’t been disclosed publicly. The measure is further evidence that senior ruling party and military officials are growing impatient with the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Inflation has surged to 786%, the currency has crashed and the country is facing shortages of food and fuel, it says.
  • Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell congratulated the All Blacks Sevens team after they were named winners of the 2019/20 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series on Tuesday. World Rugby announced the cancellation of the remaining four tournaments of the World Series due to the Covid-19 pandemic and declared New Zealand as winners of the shortened series of six tournaments as they were top of the standings.
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