South African rand falls as Eskom begins power outages
(Updates to reflect afternoon trading)
JOHANNESBURG, June 14 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand was
weaker on Thursday after disappointing mining data and as
struggling state power firm Eskom started controlled electricity
outages because of a wage dispute with labour unions.
At 1635 GMT, the rand traded at 13.3700 per dollar,
0.5 percent weaker and not far from a six-month low of 13.4400
struck on Wednesday.
South African assets have been hurt recently by weak
economic figures and an unfavourable external backdrop which has
seen global investors pull back from emerging markets.
Data showing that mining output fell 4.3 percent in April
came after April retail sales undershot expectations and
first-quarter gross domestic product contracted by 2.2 percent.
Those data points have added to evidence that the economy is
yet to pick up momentum following Cyril Ramaphosa's takeover of
the presidency in February.
Ramaphosa has courted investors with promises to woo
investment and root out corruption, but he faces an uphill
battle to get the economy firing on all cylinders after a decade
of stagnation under his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.
That task became harder on Thursday, when Eskom -- which
produces more than 90 percent of the country's power -- started
controlled outages as protesting union members disrupted coal
supplies and blocked some staff from going to work.
Labour unions have threatened a total shutdown of Eskom's
operations unless it meets their demands for a 15 percent
increase in salaries.
The last time Eskom had to resort to controlled power
outages in 2015, economic output was affected.
Stocks were mixed on Thursday, with bourse heavyweight
Naspers under pressure while banks were in demand.
The JSE Top-40 index edged down 0.04 percent to
52,178 points, while the broader All-share index inched
up 0.1 percent to 58,495 points.
(Reporting by Alexander Winning and Tiisetso Motsoeneng
Editing by Catherine Evans)
First Published: 2018-06-14 08:43:34
Updated 2018-06-14 18:48:54
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