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Market Commentary | The week that was

Rising potato prices: In South Africa, the doubling of potato prices impacts local eating habits, especially among students in areas like Braamfontein. This rise in cost has led to smaller food portions at eateries and is a part of the broader issue of high food inflation, currently at 8%. The situation is particularly challenging for lower-income households and a significant concern in the political landscape ahead of the general election, reflecting the economic challenges South Africans experience.

Hex battery energy storage system: Eskom, the South African state-run power utility, has launched the largest battery energy storage facility in Worcester, Western Cape. The Hex Battery Energy Storage System can power a town of nearly 100,000 people for about five hours and is the largest in Africa. This initiative, part of Eskom's strategy to overcome electricity shortages, was implemented with aid from South Korea's Hyosung Heavy Industries and Chinese Pinggao Group and funded by the World Bank. This project marks a significant step in addressing the energy challenges in the country.

Ford's investment in South Africa: Ford Motor Company is investing R5.2 billion in its South African Silverton plant to produce the Ranger plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, targeting energy self-sufficiency by 2025. This forms part of a plan to introduce nine new models in South Africa and includes exporting to Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Ford's initiative also supports local community education and youth empowerment projects.

Markets: In early trading on Monday, the South African rand was slightly stronger at R18.70 against the US dollar, ahead of a data-heavy week. The rand decline last week mirrored trends in other emerging market currencies, influenced by hawkish comments from US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange Top 40 index rose by about 0.4%. The yield on the South African benchmark 2030 government bond decreased slightly to 10.38%.

Week ahead: On Tuesday, 14th November, South Africa will report its unemployment rate, while the United States will release its consumer inflation figures. The economic updates continue Wednesday, with Japan presenting its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth data, the United Kingdom announced its consumer inflation, South Africa disclosing retail sales, and the United States providing both Producer Price Index (PPI) inflation and retail sales figures. On Thursday, South Africa will conclude this set of economic releases with its wholesale sales data.

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