I write this Newsletter from South Africa, when traditionally I would be in the United Kingdom sitting on the trading floor with the stock brokers at Charles Stanley. Due to Covid related issues such as travel restrictions and quarantine, as well as the fact that most of the stock brokers are working remotely, it has given me the pleasure of remaining in South Africa over this period.

Despite the disruptions of Covid, we have been incredibly lucky that our investment family and colleagues have remained relatively healthy. One sincerely hopes that the vaccination roll-out increases and that local and global travel return to some sense of normality as the tourism sector, in particular, is in desperate need of business inflows and this pressure is being felt globally.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) ended off its peak at 67427 and the patient South African investors have been rewarded with decent year to date performances on some of our favourite stocks. Once again, it has been the resource sectors that have enjoyed a resurgence on the back of global uptick and we have seen a bounce in some of the oversold property and banking sectors. Agriculture has once again seen the benefit of more demand.

Unfortunately, South Africa now has the highest rate of unemployment in the world, coupled with a very low business confidence index.  The very unfortunate events of the recent riots in KZN and Gauteng, affected both local and global investors’ confidence and in some instances, has caused companies to relocate to more peaceful environments. There has been a significant number of global companies reviewing their investment destinations and it will take a long time for South Africa to heal from the recent unrest. The currency has seen a slight recovery following the riots as global investors hunt for yield. Despite these negativities, our Blue Chip South African-focused companies have performed satisfactorily and those with strong balance sheets and good cash flows have come to the fore in terms of investor focus.

China recently embarked on a regulatory reform of their tech sector and are now rolling this out into other areas such as education, in order to mitigate their inequality gap. This has had a serious effect on the JSE as Naspers and Prosus, two of the biggest companies on our exchange, have strong business interests through Tencent into China. It remains to be seen how aggressively the Chinese regulators implement these reforms.

Globally, inflation has come into the spotlight and concerns around prolonged low interest rates, as well as austerity measures, have caused a few jitters with some investors repositioning their global focus.

The United States recent exit from Afghanistan and the speed at which the Taliban took back their strong hold, flabbergasted most analysts and it remains to be seen how things develop in that conflict zone. It must be noted, that the current presidency is far calmer and less social media focused than the previous one under Trump and to date, there have not been negative economic fall-outs from his administration. This, coupled with the easing of the Brexit tensions, has resulted in a positive quarter for most global Bourses.

Coupled with Covid fatigue, we know everyone is suffering from compliance fatigue and I would like to apologise for the constant updates with regards to FICCA and now POPI.  As your personal information is all important to us please be assured that we are taking every precaution to protect this information and to embrace the ever changing landscape around POPI for both local and global clients.

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