Shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange fell, although the decline was limited despite strong global markets, as a new coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa spooked investors. Scientists announced yesterday that they had discovered a new COVID -19 variant in South Africa called B.1.1.529, which has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations. They described it as a cause for concern. The stock market, which had been hovering around its all-time highs for the past two weeks, gave up its early gains. The blue-chip Top 40 index lost 0.17% to close at 64,063. The benchmark All-Share index closed 0.01% lower at 70,555 points.
The rand edged firmer on Thursday as the dollar weakened but still traded near a 16-month high after investors bet the Federal Reserve would tighten monetary policy faster than its peers. However, by the end of the day, the rand was trading 1.54% weaker against the dollar, trading around the R16.22 level.
Domestic data showed that producer inflation accelerated in October, providing further evidence of price pressures in Africa’s most industrialised economy.
This morning, gold saw its worst week in five months as gold prices were pressured by mounting bets that the U.S. Federal Reserve will accelerate the pace of stimulus tapering and raise interest rates sooner to stem rising inflation. Oil prices fell more than 1% today on fears that the global supply surplus could rise in the first quarter following a coordinated release of crude reserves by major consumers, led by the U.S. Board (ECB) expects a surplus of 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December, which could widen to 2.3 million bpd in January and 3.7 million bpd in February if consumer nations proceed with the release.
Stefanutti Stocks making slow progress with Eskom claims and disputes
JSE-listed construction group Stefanutti Stocks is making some progress in its disputes with Eskom after the utility claimed it had overpaid almost R4 billion to various contractors at the Kusile power station, including an estimated R1 billion to two of Stefanutti Stocks’ joint ventures (JVs). Stefanutti Stocks on Thursday also provided an update on its progress in implementing its restructuring plan, which aims to optimise the group’s capital structure and provide it with access to liquidity to position the group for long-term growth. The company reported a loss from operations of 67.12 cents per share for the period. The group’s order book for continuing operations currently stands at R4,6 billion, of which R1,6 billion relates to orders beyond South Africa’s borders.
Botswana court delivers damning verdict against PwC over late choppies audit
The High Court of Botswana this week delivered a damning judgement against PwC and auditor Rudi Binedell for delays in publishing group audit results that seriously affected Choppies’ share price. Choppies share price seriously affected. The judge criticised Binedell for delaying the publication of the Choppies Enterprises audit report had delayed because he had been offered a job at Choppies. The company’s two largest shareholders – Ram Ottapathu and Farouk Ismail – are suing PwC and Binedell for a total of R621.8 million for losses incurred on the Botswana Stock Exchange as a result of Choppies’ delay in publishing its financial results on that exchange. They allege that PwC’s actions caused the loss of over 75% of Choppies’ market value.