January 16, 2024
MyCURRENCY News | Week 3 2024
What we know
What a month it has been! While most of SA has been enjoying a break from the madness of a ‘normal’ day in SA, the exchange rate has been at it with its usual vigour. While we usually measure the USDZAR’s movements on a weekly basis, this past month’s trading history can be split almost evenly between “pre-loadshedding” and “post-loadshedding”. Broadly speaking, the last 2 weeks of 2023 were spent trading below R18.50/USD while the new year has seen us trading above R18.50/USD but still under R18.80/USD.
The reason for the abrupt swing in the ZAR’s fortune might have shocked you, but that would require power. It was always a question of “when” and not “if” loadshedding would presume. Eskom didn’t miss a beat and the sad, sad sound of the mains clicking off echoed down the hallways of many a home on the 2nd of January. Clearly no ‘new’ new year’s resolutions from Eskom’s side.
It’s still too early in the year to waste an opportunity to start off filled with at least some optimism, and so it may be best to leave Eskom alone for now. There are, however, some rather important events this year on the calendar, all starting with the world’s largest popularity contest – the US elections. We’re by no means brave or conceited enough to attempt to make predictions about how it will all unfold in the land of the free. It will of course play a large part in how the AGOA act debacle will finally play out along with a lasting influence on geopolitics, of which SA almost always bears the brunt of.
We do of course have our very own election this year which has yet to get into full swing, at least by our own account. In the midst of it all, we’ve been blessed with Fikile Mbalula’s sudden urge to set the past right and admit that the caucus had lied to cover up for Nkandla. Talk about being late to the party.
In any case, we expect these types of bizarre statements to increase tenfold as the governing party tries to fend off advances from the EFF and DA. Zuma’s enrolment with the MK Party seems purely theatrical at this stage, though the damage it has done is already telling, with blunders like those mentioned above by the ANC.
What others say
IB Times – Red Sea, Panama Canal send container freight costs soaring – what it means for global economy and Wall Street
“Like 2020’s supply chain disruptions, these delays may lead to port and warehouse overloads, reviving fears of renewed supply chain bottlenecks. They could lead to container shortages, soaring shipping rates and cost-push inflation.”
Daily Maverick – Genuine growth or smoke & mirrors? EFF’s electoral performance may define SA’s future
“One of the most important questions on which South Africa’s political future will hinge is whether the EFF will gain more votes in this year’s national and provincial elections than in 2019. The result will decide what role the EFF could play in national or provincial governments, with an accompanying crucial impact on governance and policy.”
Reuters – China growth seen slowing to 4.6% in 2024, raising heat on policymakers
“…the world’s second-largest economy has struggled to mount a strong and sustainable post-COVID pandemic bounce, burdened by the protracted property crisis, weak consumer and business confidence, mounting local government debts, and weak global growth.”
What we think
We finished off last year saying “There’s a surprising amount of data due out this week, together with interest rate decisions from the Fed, BoE and ECB. With all three major central banks expected to keep rates on hold, it would take some surprising rhetoric to really get the markets moving in response…”
The various banks held their rates flat at the end of last year, though, the jolt to the system was due to a drastic change in sentiment from Powell where their forward guidance switched from the possibility of another interest rate hike to that of numerous interest rate cuts in the new year. This saw the USDZAR drop from above R19.00/USD to the R18.20’s. Inflation and interest rates, as always, will be a major driver in 2024, though this time it will hopefully lead to more positive moves for the ZAR overall.
Data events are slowly creeping back into the mix as the world returns to work which will make markets more lively – and this week sees some keys economic data out of China along with the EU’s inflation data on Wednesday.
Our range for the week: R18.45/USD – R18.90/USD.
Have a great week ahead.