Local stocks fell slightly on Friday, but ended the first trading week of the year in positive territory. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s All-Share Index lost 0.3% to end the day at 73,940 points, while the blue-chip index of the 40 largest companies lost 0.25% to end the week at 67,251 points. Mining stocks were the best performers in the top 40 index, with Anglo American up 1.77% on Friday. Harmony Gold, on the other hand, lost 4.73% on Friday and was the worst performer in the Top 40 Index.
The rand continued to gain on Friday, increasing its gains this week to over 2% against the dollar as the greenback weakened on a mixed U.S. jobs report. At the close of trading, the rand was trading around R15.62 against the dollar, 0.78% firmer. Meanwhile, the dollar began the week with support as traders bet that U.S. inflation data and appearances by several Federal Reserve officials would bolster the case for higher interest rates.
Oil prices fell for a second straight day today as rapidly rising Omicron COVID -19 variant cases hurt economic activity. However, losses were contained by supply disruptions in Kazakhstan and Libya. Gold prices were unchanged this morning, hovering near three-week lows as traders awaited U.S. inflation data for December, which could bolster the case for an earlier rate hike by the Federal Reserve following weaker labour market data.
MTI CEO arrested in Brazil
The mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Mirror Trading International (MTI) CEO Johann Steynberg has been solved. According to Brazilian military police, he was arrested last week in Goiás province in central Brazil for using a false document. Brandon Topham, head of enforcement at the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), says his team was informed of Steynberg’s arrest in the South American country by the South African Hawks. Moneyweb has reached out to the Hawks but has not yet received a response. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world were drawn into the scheme, which promised returns of up to 10% per month. Investors had to send bitcoin (BTC) to participate in the scheme. Despite repeated warnings from the FSCA, the scheme grew into the biggest crypto scam of 2020, Chainalysis noted.
Koeberg life extension project starts late
The Koeberg power plant, located on South Africa’s west coast about 35 km north of Cape Town, is nearing the end of its 40-year life and operating licence. However, in 2022 and early 2023, the nuclear power plant is scheduled to receive a series of upgrades to extend its operating life by another 20 years. This includes replacing three steam generators in each of Koeberg’s two 920-megawatt nuclear reactors (MW). However, Eskom’s chief nuclear officer, Riedewaan Bakardien, says the Omicron variation and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to travel restrictions and the implementation of additional protocols, “proved challenging to get some of the required international resources on site in a timely manner.”