/ 15 December 2012

Investors jittery, rand retreats as Mangaung looms

Mining companies have expressed concern that the ANC may decide to increase taxes on mines
Mining companies have expressed concern that the ANC may decide to increase taxes on mines

Markets in South Africa will be closed for a national holiday on Monday. Trading will resume on Tuesday.

The ruling ANC party starts a 5-day leadership election meeting on Sunday, which will likely see President Jacob Zuma re-elected for a second term.

The ANC will also hammer out a final stance on issues such as mines nationalisation or taxation, and labour policy. Mining companies are concerned that the ANC may decide to increase taxes on mines, further increasing their costs.

"Nationalisation seems to have been ruled out but remains a concern, while SAGBs (South African government bonds) have already taken on a cautious stance with prospects for raising mining taxes, which would help the government but ultimately impact industry," said Anisha Arora, emerging market analyst for 4Cast.

A re-election of President Zuma is expected to keep intact what are seen as some of the world's most rigid labour laws, which some have argued have helped keep 25% of the labour force without work.

The rand was stuck in a recent range on Friday and moved away from key resistance at 8.60 as the barrier proved too tough for rand bulls while there was uncertainty in the domestic market.

"Until progress is made we expect the rand will continue to range trade," 4Cast's Arora said.

Bonds weakened to one-week lows and yields ended at 5.425% on the 2015 note and 7.345% on the 2026 issue on what dealers said was profit-taking after a month-long rally, especially on the longer end.

"This week we continued to see good demand for duration from offshore accounts. Today guys are taking some profit because some of the very long end bonds, the R209s and R214s, have been struggling to break some key technical levels," said a local bond trader.

The 2041 yield has bounced from around 8.12% since Tuesday, while the 2036 hit resistance at around 8.09%. – Reuters.