south africas economy soars as elections fuel rand and stock market optimism 146

Market Trends

South Africa's Economy Soars as Elections Fuel Rand and Stock Market Optimism


Leo Gonzalez

May 14, 2024 - 05:37 am


South Africa’s Election Optimism Bolsters Rand and Stocks to Peak Levels

In a significant financial turn of events, the rand has remarkably wiped out this year's losses, leading South Africa’s prime stock index to attain its highest surge in over nine months. This surge pivots on investor anticipation of a favorable result in the upcoming May 29th election.

Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of the African National Congress (ANC), rallied support at a campaign event in KwaZulu Natal, signifying the charged atmosphere leading up to the elections. With a vibrant backing from his supporters, Ramaphosa's campaign trail has illustrated the high political stakes involved.

Cyril Ramaphosa, president of the African National Congress (ANC), poses for a photo with supporters during an election campaign event at Hammersdale Junction mall in KwaZulu Natal province, South Africa, on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Photographer: Leon Sadiki/Bloomberg

A Telling Poll and Its Market Impact

Bloomberg's tracking has revealed that the South African currency is one of only three, out of twenty-three emerging-market contenders, that hasn’t depreciated against the U.S. dollar this year. The altered investor climate is tethered to an Ipsos poll report released on April 26, crucially hinting that the ANC, although potentially losing its majority, is likely to steer clear of a coalition with less market-friendly parties.

Brendan McKenna, an emerging-markets foreign exchange strategist at Wells Fargo & Co., emphasizes the importance of this poll, "The Ipsos survey suggested that despite the probability of the ANC not maintaining a majority, there could be an evasion of a coalition with parties that are not as market-friendly. This is energizing the currency market, bringing down the USD/ZAR exchange rate in recent weeks."

Robust Currency Performance

On Monday, the rand’s valuation climbed by 0.4% reaching 18.3699 against the dollar, marking its stoutest performance since the end of last December.

For individuals keen on delving deeper into South Africa's election data on the Bloomberg Terminal, a quick search using "ELEC ZA" provides exhaustive insights into the upcoming elections.

Uncertainty in Election Outcomes

For the first time since the cessation of white minority rule over three decades prior, a national election approaches where an outright victor isn’t guaranteed. A series of public surveys are indicating that the ANC is possibly at risk of not securing a majority in the May 29 vote, which could necessitate a coalition with rival parties to maintain governance over Africa's most industrialized nation.

Investor trepidation is spiking at the thought of government policies potentially skewing leftward, with the ANC possibly allying with the more radical Economic Freedom Fighters or the freshly formed Umkhonto WeSizwe Party.

Investors at a Crossroad

Kim Silberman, a macro strategist from Matrix Fund Managers, encapsulates the investor mindset: “The election outcome will have a binary effect on assets; they will either soar post-outcome or tumble considerably."

Silberman added that foreign investors are likely under-represented in South African assets. A favorable market response could catapult the currency towards or even below the 18.00 mark before stabilizing at approximately 18.50 after the initial euphoric response.

Conversely, in a scenario painted as extremely unfriendly to the market, the rand could depreciate towards 21.00 against the U.S. dollar, and bond yields might escalate by as much as 150 basis points, positioning the generic 10-year yield around 13.5%.

Stock Index’s Winning Streak

South Africa's benchmark stock index recently culminated its seventh consecutive rise on a Monday – a winning streak last witnessed in June 2021. This ascendancy propelled the 14-day Relative Strength Index to a towering 76.30, a pinnacle not observed since November 2021. In technical trading, an index above 70 typically flags a market that may have ascended too swiftly.

Nonetheless, despite such technical indications, strategists are forecasting further equity victories. Strategists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., including Sunil Koul, noted that “South African equities tend to perform well in the three months preceding elections. Historical figures show that, on average, returns are modestly favorable one to three months post-elections, although individual election outcomes vary."

An Influx into South African Bonds

An interesting trend has emerged wherein investors have been aggressively funneling investments into South African local-currency bonds. Friday witnessed net inflows of 13.3 billion rand (equivalent to about $724 million)—a volume of inflow second only to the largest ever recorded since data began to be collected in 2019.

These inflows could be indicative of a surge in confidence within the investment community, a response to the favorable forecasts surrounding the upcoming election and subsequent economic policies.

To access additional insights and advanced analytics related to South Africa’s elections, Bloomberg Terminal users can explore the comprehensive information available using the dedicated shortcut.

For further details, click on the following link: South Africa’s Elections on Bloomberg Terminal

The entirety of this landscape is reflective of a suspense-filled prelude to an election loaded with potential market alterations. The economic tempo, as exhibited by the currency strength and stock index trends, aligns with historical patterns yet stands at the precipice of newer, uncharted political dynamics. As South Africa steers towards this critical political juncture, the fabric of its financial markets remains tightly interwoven with the electoral verdict – a nod, perhaps, to the intrinsic link between governance and economic health that continues to define and shape emergent economies across the globe.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

(Note: As an AI, I do not have real-time data access, and hence the news article generated above is based on the provided scraped news content and cannot be updated or verified against current events or data.)