Category Economy
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11 October 2004 Angelo Coppola

Heightened market hopes for another interest rate cut initially weighed on the rand, with the local unit weakening to around R6,66 on Friday against the US dollar.

The Nedcor Economic Unti reports however, that it retraced some of its losses late on the day to close at R6,59 from R6,50 in the previous week.

This was due to some dollar weakness and comments by Reserve Bank’s officials on expected impact of rising oil prices on long-term domestic inflation prospects.

Against the euro and the British pound, the rand was weaker at R8,17 and R11,82 respectively from R8,09 and R11,68. Bond prices were mixed, with the yield on the longer-dated R153 2010 closing lower at 8,84% from 8,90%, while that on the R194 2008 ended the week up at 8,61% from 8,53%.

Money market rates edged higher as expectations of another rate cut waned, with yields on the 3-, 6 -, 9- and 12-month NCDs rising to 7,60%, 7,75%, 7,85% and 8,05% respectively from 7,45%, 7,60%, 7,70% and 7,55%. The 3-month jibar rose to 7,49% from 7,29% a week ago.

The equity market continued its rally of the previous weeks on the back of the softer rand and firm commodity prices.

The FTSE/JSE all-share index rose above the 12 000 level for the first time on Thursday to end 2,1% higher from the previous week’s close of 11 871,8. Resources gained 402,0 points or 3,4% to 12 072, while the gold index was up by 5,9% or 123,9 points to end the week at 2 213,8.

Industrials closed 2,5% stronger at 10 173,7 from 9 830. In contrast, the financial index lost 91,7 points to end 0,8% lower at 11 344,1.

New vehicle sales rose further in September, with total sales up by 22,7% y-o-y (4,9% m-o-m) from an 18,8% y-o-y increase in August.

Both passenger and commercial vehicle sales contributed to the strong rise in total sales, with sales of passenger vehicles up by 21,2% y-o-y, while commercial vehicle sales increased by 25,3%. For the first nine months of this year, total sales accelerated by 19% compared with the same period a year ago.

Retail trade sales rose by 11,7% y-o-y in July from 9,2% in June, providing continued evidence of strong consumer spending.

Good personal finances, relatively low inflation, sharply lower interest rates and rising property prices clearly boosted consumer confidence. This is also evident by the strong earnings growth reported by retailers.

For the three months to July, retail trade sales are reported to have been 9,7% higher compared with the same period last year.

Gross gold and foreign exchange reserves rose to US$12,38 billion in September from US$12,04 billion in August, while net reserves or the international liquidity position increased by US$483 million to US$9,034 billion in September.

The build up in reserves suggests that the Reserve Bank continues to remain active in the foreign exchange market, taking advantage of capital inflows.

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