Five fascinating business facts – Part 50
South Africa’s rand is forecast to weaken further this year, giving back some of the gains booked in sessions last week as technical selling by investors wary of a rising dollar put the currency under pressure. On Friday, the rand was 0.35 percent weaker at 12.3425 per dollar from a close of 12.3000 overnight in New York. The currency rallied to a new 2-1/2 year best of 12.2325 on Thursday on speculation that President Jacob Zuma’s term, which ends in 2019, would be cut short as early as next week. A Reuters poll on Friday found analysts expect the rand to weaken over 12 percent this year, hit by doubts about how much the new leader of the ruling African National Congress, Cyril Ramaphosa a promised reformer, can do for South Africa’s ailing economy.
Angola’s depleting foreign exchange reserves which have more than halved in one year to just $14bn is prompting the central bank to ease currency controls which are aimed at restructuring foreign debt and allow looser trading of the kwanza. The central bank said it would shift from a currency peg to a trading band, which would keep the kwanza’s value against the U.S. dollar within an as-yet undefined range. The changes will be implemented from this month. Angola, sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest economy, also plans to refinance its external debt, which stands at $38 billion, Finance Minister Archer Mangueira said. Angola has maintained a quasi-pegged exchange rate of about 166 kwanza per dollar, even though the dollar buys about 400 kwanza on a thriving
Inflation in the Eurozone has fallen to 1.4% slipping further away from the European Central Bank’s target in December, highlighting the challenge facing the bank as it looks to maintain price rises while winding down its quantitative easing programme this year.
Apple is to release a patch for the Safari web browser on its iPhones, iPads and Macs within days, after major chip makers disclosed flaws that leave nearly every modern computing device vulnerable to hackers. Browser makers Google, Microsoft and Mozilla’s Firefox all confirmed that the patches they currently had in place did not protect iOS users. With Safari and virtually all other popular browsers not patched, hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users may have no secure means of browsing the web until Apple issues its patch. Apple stressed that there were no known instances of hackers taking advantage of the flaw to date.
Hot, dry weather last week in most of top grower Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions has raised fears about bean quality and production for the remainder of the main crop, farmers said. Data collected by Reuters showed above average temperatures in cocoa regions last week, ranging in mean from 25.42 to 27.98 degrees Celsius. Ivory Coast’s cocoa season started on Oct. 1. The country is currently in the dry season, which runs from mid-November to March. Farmers predicted high volumes of beans would continue to be sent to port until late January, with production tapering off and declining in quality through the end of the main crop in March if rainfall does not improve.
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