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Market Commentary | The week that was

Cyril Ramaphosa Ally Sisisi Tolashe Elected ANC Women's League President: In a closely contested election, Sisisi Tolashe, Deputy Minister in the Presidency and an ally of President Cyril Ramaphosa, emerged as the new leader of the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) with 1,729 votes. Her victory meant defeat for former ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini, who sought re-election, but only received 170 votes. The previous leadership structure was disbanded in April 2022 by the National Executive Committee (NEC). The conference comes as South Africa prepares for provincial and national elections in 2024, with ANC support expected to decline below 50% in polls.

South African Passport Rises in Global Ranking: In the 2023 Henley Passport Index, South Africa's passport has shown improvement, now ranking 51st out of 103 countries, up from 55th in 2022. While it holds the third-strongest passport in Africa, it lags behind Seychelles and Mauritius. South Africans enjoy visa-free access to 106 of 227 destinations, with Europe being the least open region. Despite the progress, experts caution that the reasons behind the improvement need scrutiny. Increased global trust could enhance tourism and attract investments, but South Africa is still far from the top spot, held by Singapore, granting visa-free access to 192 destinations.

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station concerns: Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa expressed deep concern over the ongoing delays in Koeberg’s life-extension project. Despite receiving reports and conducting site visits, the Minister remains unsatisfied with Eskom's explanations for the continuously slipping deadline for completion of Unit 1. He fears that a further delay could cause an overlap with the planned outage for Unit 2, resulting in a significant loss of 1,840MW from the national grid. Ramokgopa has pledged to escalate the matter to Eskom's board and vowed to investigate the issues at Koeberg.

Markets: After ten consecutive rate hikes, the South African Reserve Bank's Monetary Policy Committee finally pauses, leaving the repo rate unchanged at 8.25%. The rand has opened softer this morning in line with other EM markets on some unease ahead of the central bank meetings. On Monday, the rand was trading at R17.99/$, R20/€, and R23.15/£. Brent crude is trading at $80.29 a barrel.

Looking at the week ahead: The United States FED will announce its interest rate decision on Wednesday. The European Central Bank (ECB) expects to hike on Thursday. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) has its interest rate announcement on Friday. META (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp), Microsoft & Alphabet are reporting earnings this week. Locally, the PPI (Producer Price Index) report is due on Thursday for release.

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