Rand firms, stocks fall as vote counting is 25% of the way

Election officials seal ballot boxes at the end of voting at a polling station in Johannesburg last night. Counting is under way – just over a quarter of the votes have been counted. Picture: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters
Election officials seal ballot boxes at the end of voting at a polling station in Johannesburg last night. Counting is under way – just over a quarter of the votes have been counted. Picture: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

The rand firmed in early trade on Thursday, a day after an election for a new parliament and provincial legislatures, while stocks fell with Steinhoff the biggest loser on the all-share index.

The election was seen as the toughest test yet for the ruling ANC 25 years after the party swept to power at the end of white minority rule.

At nearly 9.30am the rand traded at 14.34 a dollar, 0.36% firmer than its New York close on Wednesday.

“It’s too early to tell how the domestic market has interpreted the initial results,” RMB analyst Nema Ramkhelawan-Bhana said.

“The rand’s apparent outperformance against a basket of emerging market currencies, despite concerns over the fluidity of US-Sino trade talks, could be reinforced if the consensus expectation for the ruling party plays out and the ANC secures 57% to 58.5% of the national vote.”

On the stock market, the Top-40 index was down 1.5% while the broader all-share fell 1.4% in early trade.

Shares in Steinhoff fell more than 16% after the retailer reported a $4 billion (about R57 billion) operating loss in the 2017 fiscal year on Tuesday.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark instrument due in 2026 was down 7.5 basis points to 8.525%.

Election results so far

At 9.45am, after 27.83% of voting districts had released results, the ANC led the national race with 54.91% followed by the DA at 26.1% and the EFF at 8.31%.

Provincial results indicated that the ANC would take control of the Northern Cape after 77.65% of voting districts were completed. The ANC in the province had 55.65% of the vote and the DA followed with 28.52%.

In the Western Cape, however, the DA led with 56.68% of the vote after 50% of votes had been counted. Interestingly, Good, led by former DA member Patricia de Lille, managed to creep up to third, although the support was 3.11%.

All the other provinces show the ANC in the lead from between 50% and 74%, but counting had not reached the halfway mark yet. – Reuters

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