Wednesday June 21 2017
South Africa Inflation Rate Edges Up To 5.4%
Statistics South Africa | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in South Africa increased 5.4 percent year-on-year in May of 2017, higher than 5.3 percent in April which was the lowest rate since December of 2015. Figures came above market expectations of 5.3 percent due to rising cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages and transport.

Year-on-year, prices rose faster for food and non-alcoholic beverages (6.9 percent from 6.7 percent in April); transport (5.2 percent from 4.6 percent); health (6.9 percent from 6.5 percent); alcoholic beverages and tobacco (3.1 percent from 2.9 percent) and recreation and culture (3.8 percent from 3.6 percent). In contrast, inflation was steady for housing and utilities (5.7 percent); miscellaneous goods and services (7.3 percent); education (7 percent); household contents (2.8 percent) and slowed for restaurants and hotels (4.8 percent from 6.4 percent); health (6.5 percent from 6.2 percent) and clothing and footwear (3.9 percent from 4 percent). 

Annual core inflation which excludes cost of food, non-alcoholic beverages, petrol and energy was steady at 4.8 percent, the lowest rate since January of 2013.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices increased 0.3 percent, after edging up 0.1 percent in April and higher than expectations of 0.2 percent. Food and non-alcoholic beverages (0.5 percent) and transport (1.2 percent) made the only upward contributions. 




Tuesday June 06 2017
South Africa Annual GDP Growth At Near 2-Year High In Q1
Statistics South Africa | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

The South African economy advanced 1 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2017, higher than 0.7 percent in the previous two quarters and matching market expectations. It is the highest growth rate since the second quarter of 2015 due to a rebound in mining and a 2-year high jump in agriculture.

The mining sector rose 6.9 percent, the first increase in six quarters. Agriculture went up 10.3 percent, the biggest gain since the first quarter of 2015.

In contrast, utilities went down for the eighth period (-1.6 percent from -3.2 percent in the previous quarter); trade declined 1 percent (+1.1 percent in the previous period); manufacturing went down for the second quarter (-0.9 percent from -0.7 percent) and construction fell 0.4 percent (+0.2 percent).

On a quarterly basis, the economy contracted an annualized 0.7 percent, following a 0.3 percent drop in the previous period and compared to market expectations of a 0.9 percent expansion. It is the first recession since 2009, mainly dragged down by trade and manufacturing.




Tuesday June 06 2017
South African Economy Enters Recession In Q1
Statistics South Africa | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

The South African economy unexpectedly contracted an annualized 0.7 percent on quarter in the first three months of 2017, following a 0.3 percent drop in the previous period and compared to market expectations of a 0.9 percent expansion. It is the first recession since 2009 as both trade and manufacturing recorded negative growth rates.

The largest negative contribution came from trade, catering and accommodation which contracted 5.9 percent, following a 2.1 percent rise in the previous period. Manufacturing also dragged down the GDP, falling for the third straight quarter (-3.7 percent from -3.1 percent), as production of petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products decreased.

Additional downward pressure came from finance, real estate and business services (-1.2 percent from 1.6 percent); transport, storage and communication (-1.6 percent from 2.6 percent ) and utilites (-4.8 percent from 2.4 percent).

In contrast, mining rebounded (12.8 percent from -11.5 percent), boosted by higher production of gold and other metal ores including platinum. Also, agriculture surged 22.2 percent, coming back to growth after 8 straight quarters of declines. The rebound was mainly driven by a jump in production of field crops and horticultural products pointing to a recovery after one of the toughest droughts in recent history.

Year-on-year, the GDP rose 1 percent, higher than 0.7 percent in the previous period and in line with market expectations. It is the highest growth rate since the second quarter of 2015 as mining rebounded and agriculture grew the most in 2 years.  




Thursday June 01 2017
South Africa Jobless Rate At 13-Year High Of 27.7%
Statistics South Africa | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

The unemployment rate in South Africa increased to 27.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017 from 26.5 percent in the previous period. It is the highest jobless rate since the first quarter of 2004 as unemployment rose faster than employment and more people joined the labour force.

The number of unemployed persons rose by 433 thousand to 6.2 million, the highest since at least 2001. Employment went up by 144 thousand to 16.2 million. Job gains occurred in the formal non-agricultural sector (181 thousand) and in private households (21 thousand) but losses were recorded in the informal sector (-14 thousand) and in agriculture (-44 thousand). 

The labour force increased by 577 thousand to 22.42 million and those detached from it fell by 421 thousand to 14.63 million.

The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work, rose to 36.4 percent from 35.6 percent.

A year earlier, the jobless rate was lower at 26.7 percent. 




Wednesday May 31 2017
South Africa Trade Surplus Narrows In April
South African Revenue Service | Yekaterina Guchshina | yekaterina@tradingeconomics.com

South Africa posted a trade surplus of ZAR 5.1 billion in April of 2017 compared to a downwardly revised ZAR 11.3 billion surplus in March and slightly below market expectations of ZAR 5.5 billion. Exports fell 9.2 percent to ZAR 91.8 billion, due to lower sales of precious metals and stones, vehicles & transport equipment, machinery & electronics and chemicals. Imports went down 3.4 percent to ZAR 86.7 billion, driven by purchases of optical photographic products, original equipment components, vegetables, and chemicals.

Exports fell to ZAR 91.8 billion, mainly driven by lower sales of vehicles & transport equipment (-18 percent), machinery & electronics (-18 percent), precious metals and stones (-8 percent), chemicals (-9 percent). In contrast, sales of mineral products went up 10 percent. Major destinations for exports were China (9.4 percent of total exports), Germany (7.7 percent), the US (6.9 percent), India (5 percent) and Japan (4.5 percent).

Imports decreased to 86.7 billion, as purchases went down for: optical photographic products (-26 percent); original equipment components (17 percent); vegetables (-22 percent) and chemicals (-4 percent). In contrast, imports of vehicles & transport equipment rose 4 percent. Imports came mainly from China (17.3 percent of total imports), Germany (10.5 percent), the US (6.3 percent), Saudi Arabia (5.9 percent) and  India (5 percent).

Excluding trade with neighboring Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, the country posted a trade deficit of ZAR 1.19 billion in April. 




Thursday May 25 2017
South Africa Holds Repo Rate At 7%
SARB | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

The South African Reserve Bank kept its benchmark repo rate on hold at 7 percent at its May 25th 2017 meeting, in line with market expectations. Policymakers said that although the inflation outlook has improved over the near term, the longer-term forecast is unchanged, remaining close to the upper limit of the target range. In addition, the rand and domestic bond yields benefited from increased global capital inflows to emerging markets which largely offset the impact of the sovereign credit ratings downgrade. However, with further ratings decisions imminent, risks remain for a further depreciation against the backdrop of continued global and domestic political uncertainty. Also, domestic growth prospects have deteriorated. The central bank revised down inflation and growth forecasts for this year.

Excerpts from the statement by Governor Lesetja Kganyago:

The inflation forecast of the Bank has improved over the near term, but is unchanged in the outer quarters. In line with the previous forecast, headline consumer price inflation is expected to remain within the range for the rest of the forecast period. Inflation is expected to average 5.7% this year compared with 5.9% previously, while the forecast for 2018 has moderated by 0.1 percentage point to 5.3%. The forecast average for 2019 is unchanged at 5.5%.

The domestic growth outlook has deteriorated amid weak business and consumer confidence. The Bank’s forecast for GDP growth has been revised down for the entire forecast period, by 0.2 percentage points for 2017 and 2018, and by 0.3 percentage points in 2019. Annual growth rates of 1.0%, 1.5% and 1.7% for the forecast years are now expected. This downward revision is due in part to the expected impact of the sovereign credit ratings downgrade on domestic private sector gross fixed capital formation in particular. The downgrade is also likely to weigh on public sector investment through higher funding costs and more difficult access to funding. 

The rand remains a key upside risk to the forecast. The rand has, however, been surprisingly resilient in the face of recent domestic developments. This is partly due to offsetting factors, particularly positive sentiment towards emerging markets and the improved current account balance. The current level of the exchange rate, at below R13.00 against the dollar, is slightly stronger than at the time of the last meeting and stronger than that implicit in the starting point for the real exchange rate assumption. 

The outlook for the rand, and therefore the risks to the inflation outlook, will be highly sensitive to unfolding domestic political uncertainty, as well as decisions by the credit ratings agencies. The rand could weaken significantly in the event of a worst-case ratings downgrade scenario that could result in South African government bonds falling out of the global bond indices.




Wednesday May 24 2017
South Africa Inflation Rate Down To 2015 Low Of 5.3%
Statistics South Africa | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in South Africa rose 5.3 percent year-on-year in April of 2017, easing from a 6.1 percent increase in March and below market expectations of 5.6 percent. It is the lowest inflation rate since December of 2015, mainly due to a slowdown in prices of food and transport.

Year-on-year, prices rose at a slower pace for food and non-alcoholic beverages (6.7 percent from 8.7 percent in March), the lowest since December of 2015; miscellaneous goods and services (7.3 percent from 7.5 percent); transport (4.6 percent from 7.7 percent); alcoholic beverages and tobacco (2.9 percent from 3.2 percent); household contents (2.8 percent from 3.2 percent); recreation and culture (3.6 percent from 3.7 percent) and clothing and footwear (4 percent from 4.5 percent). In contrast, inflation was steady for housing and utilities (5.7 percent) and education (7 percent) and increased for restaurants and hotels (6.4 percent from 6.1 percent) and health (6.5 percent from 6.2 percent). 

Annual core inflation which excludes cost of food, non-alcoholic beverages, petrol and energy fell to 4.8 percent from 4.9 percent. It is the lowest rate since January of 2013.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices edged up 0.1 percent, below 0.6 percent in March and lower than expectations of 0.4 percent. The only upward contribution came from prices of miscellaneous goods and services (prices up 0.4 percent). In contrast, cost of food and housing and utilities was flat and transport declined 0.3 percent. 


Friday April 28 2017
South Africa Trade Surplus Widens In March
South African Revenue Service | Yekaterina Guchshina | yekaterina@tradingeconomics.com

South Africa posted a trade surplus of ZAR 11.4 billion in March of 2017 compared to a downwardly revised ZAR 4.78 billion surplus in February. Exports advanced 16 percent, due to higher sales of precious metals and stones, vehicles & transport equipment, machinery & electronics and mineral products. Imports went up 8.9 percent, driven by purchases of machinery & electronics, vehicles & transport equipment, optical photographic products, and original equipment components.

Exports rose to ZAR 101.2 billion, mainly driven by higher sales of vehicles & transport equipment (19 percent), machinery & electronics (27 percent), precious metals and stones (33 percent), chemicals (17 percent) and mineral products (8 percent). Major destinations for exports were Germany (8.8 percent of total exports), China (8.7 percent), the US (6.2 percent), India (4.6 percent) and Botswana (4.4 percent).

Imports increased to 87.79 billion, as purchases went up for: machinery & electronics (18 percent), vehicles & transport equipment (41 percent), optical photographic products (30 percent) and original equipment components (12 percent). Imports came mainly from China (15.3 percent of total imports), Germany (14.7 percent), the US (8.6 percent), India (5.2 percent) and Saudi Arabia (4.9 percent) 

Excluding trade with neighboring Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, the country posted a trade surplus of ZAR 3.5 billion in March, compared to ZAR 1.6 billion gap in February. 


Wednesday April 19 2017
South Africa Inflation Rate Down To 6-Month Low
Statistics South Africa | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in South Africa increased 6.1 percent year-on-year in March of 2017, lower than a 6.3 percent rise in February and below market expectations of 6.3 percent. It is the lowest inflation rate in six months due to a slowdown in food inflation.

Year-on-year, prices rose at a slower pace for food and non-alcoholic beverages (8.7 percent from 9.9 percent in February); clothing and footwear (4.5 percent from 4.8 percent) and restaurants and hotels (6.1 percent from 6.4 percent). In contrast, inflation was steady for recreation and culture (3.7 percent) and accelerated for housing and utilities (5.7 percent from 5.6 percent); miscellaneous goods and services (7.5 percent from 7.4 percent); transport (7.7 percent from 7.2 percent); alcoholic beverages and tobacco (3.2 percent from 2.8 percent) and education (7 percent from 4.6 percent).

Annual core inflation which excludes cost of food, non-alcoholic beverages, petrol and energy fell to 4.9 percent from 5.2 percent. It is the lowest rate since January of 2013.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices rose 0.6 percent, below 1.1 percent in February and boosted by cost of housing and utilities (0.9 percent); education (7 percent); food and non-alcoholic beverages (0.5 percent) and alcoholic beverages and tobacco (1.7 percent).


Friday March 31 2017
South Africa Trade Balance Swings To Surplus in February
South African Revenue Service | Deborah Neves | deborah.neves@tradingeconomics.com

South Africa posted a trade surplus of ZAR 5.22 billion in February of 2017 compared to an upwardly revised ZAR 11.22 billion gap in January. Exports advanced 9.4 percent, due to higher sales of vehicles & transport equipment and machinery & electronics while imports went down 9.7 percent, mainly due to lower purchases of machinery & electronics.

Exports rose to ZAR 87.8 billion mainly driven by higher sales of vehicles & transport equipment (79 percent), machinery & electronics (25 percent), base metals (10 percent), plastics & rubber (33 percent) and prepared foodstuff (17 percent). Major destinations for exports were China (8.6 percent of total exports), Germany (7.9 percent), the US (6.7 percent), Japan (5.7 percent) and India (4.6 percent).

Imports declined to 82.6 billion, as purchases went down for: machinery & electronics (-18 percent), chemical products (-10 percent), plastic & rubber (-22 percent), base metals (-15 percent), vegetable products (-25 percent) and vehicles & transport equipment (-6 percent). Imports came mainly from China (18.3 percent of total imports), Germany (11.8 percent), the US (6.4 percent), Saudi Arabia (5.5 percent) and India (4.9 percent). 

Excluding trade with neighboring Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, the country posted a trade gap of ZAR 1.2 billion in February.