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South African rand hits record low as confidence drains away

11 January 2016, 20:44

Johannesburg - The South African rand hit new record lows against the dollar on Monday, reflecting the country's growing economic crisis as commodity prices fall, growth slows and investors lose confidence.

China's slowdown badly impacted African mining exporters in 2015, and concerns over the Chinese economy have triggered further damage to emerging nations already this year.

The rand plunged as much as nine percent on Monday morning, the most since October 2008, to 17.91 per dollar, before making a partial recovery.

Last year, the currency fell 25 percent against the dollar, dipping sharply in December when President Jacob Zuma fired his respected finance minister and then ousted the new minister four days later.

Business confidence has dropped to the lowest level since before Nelson Mandela came in power in 1994, according to an index released last week by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Also Read: Tribal king in South Africa faces jail time

The central bank will meet later this month, with an aggressive interest rate hike on the radar.

"A weaker currency implies a higher inflation profile," Carmen Nel, an economist at the Rand Merchant Bank told Bloomberg.

"You cannot rule out the risk of an interest-rate hike of as much a 50 basis points in January."

In the first quarter, inflation is set to break the six percent upper-limit set by the central bank.

In November, South Africa raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to counter inflation pressure.

Africa's most developed economy is suffering from lacklustre growth and high unemployment.



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