USD = R18.60  AUD = R12.28
GBP = R22.06  DXY = 105.60
EUR = R19.64Brent Crude = $82.80 per barrel

S&P Global late Wednesday downgraded its outlook on South Africa to “stable” from “positive”, citing infrastructure constraints and a severe power crisis.

South Africa’s economy contracted more than expected in the last quarter of 2022, as an escalation in rolling power cuts contributed to most sectors from agriculture to mining shrinking, data showed this week.

The rating agency said economic growth in South Africa was facing increasing pressure due to infrastructure constraints, particularly from severe electricity shortages.

Most analysts were betting that yesterday would be another difficult day for risk assets but they would have lost that bet, this as the Rand managed a tiny recovery thanks to an equally small bout of Dollar weakness.  We opened the day at R18.64 to the Dollar, fell to an intra-day worst of R18.71 before closing around R18.58. 

The US BEIGE BOOK posted overall economic activity increased slightly in early 2023. Six Districts reported little or no change in economic activity since the last report, while six indicated economic activity expanded at a modest pace. On balance, supply chain disruptions continued to ease. Consumer spending generally held steady, though a few Districts reported moderate to strong growth in retail sales during what is typically a slow period. Auto sales were little changed, on balance, though inventory levels continued to improve.

In Q4 2022, payroll employment slightly increased by 0.2% (+44,000 jobs). It has slowed down gradually since the beginning of the year: +0.4% in Q1 (+109,300 jobs) and Q2 2022 (+99,700 jobs) then +0.3% in Q3 2022 (+84,100 jobs). It has grown for the eighth consecutive month, since the end of 2020. In Q4 2022, payroll employment was sharply above its 2021 level (+1.3% that is +337,100 jobs) and exceeded it pre-sanitary level by 4.5%, at the end of 2019, that is nearly 1.2 million of additional jobs, which one out of three is an apprenticeship contract.

China’s consumer inflation slowed sharply in February as costs of food and consumer goods eased following the end of the Lunar New Year holiday, while factory prices continued to decline. The consumer price index rose 1% last month from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said Thursday, the lowest level since February 2022. The index was down from 2.1% in January, and well below the median estimate of 1.9% in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Core inflation, which doesn’t include volatile food and energy prices, eased to 0.6% from 1%.

SPORT I Cricket Proteas vs west Indies

What should have been a day of strength for South Africa ended with honours even as the West Indies fought back to contain their hosts on the first day of the second Test on Wednesday.

South Africa finished the day on 311/7, a far cry from the powerful 247/2 at tea that should have allowed SA to power themselves to an imposing first-day total.