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Trump’s policies rattle stock markets

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New York - US share prices recorded the biggest weekly drop of the year and the dollar and treasury yields remained under pressure as investors became nervous on the Trump administration’s woes on its prescribed healthcare bill.

The immigration bill also remains a hot potato, fuelling negative sentiment that US President Donald Trump’s election promises would come to nothing. Nevertheless the White House demanded a final vote on the healthcare bill on Friday and indicated that it would move forward with other policy priorities, including tax reform. These remarks helped Wall Street to rebound slightly at the opening on Friday, lifting the Dow Jones industrial index by 48 points (0.23 percent), but still down by more than 1 percent for the week. In reaction share markets around the globe were sold off especially during the beginning of last week.

Rising oil reserves in the US and signs that Opec countries do not adhere to supply constraints, saw oil prices staying low. Together with the uncertainty on Trump “reforms”, other commodity prices also remained under pressure.

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A woman poses for photos with the Charging Bull statue in New York. Since 1989 the massive, bronze bull has stood in New York City's financial district as an image of the might and hard-charging spirit of Wall Street. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

The JSE all share index closed Friday on 51816 points, 734 points (1.4 percent) down on the previous Friday. Over the week, financial shares lost 0.9 percent, while the industrial sector contracted by 0.6 percent.

The resource 20 index was down by 3.7 percent, wiping out almost all of the gains from the previous week. The property share index decreased by 0.8 percent.

Despite these uncertainties, the rand and domestic bonds, gained noticeably for the third week in a row.

The news of South Africa’s inflation rate decline, from 6.6 percent in January to 6.3 percent in February, together with the lowest current account deficit to gross domestic product (1.7 percent) over the last six years, strengthened the rand and bonds.

Prospects for a repo rate cut later in the year became brighter. The R186 bond closed on 8.37 percent or 18 points stronger than the previous week.

The rand once again appreciated last week and traded at R12.46 to the dollar at the close of JSE on Friday. This was 24c (1.9 percent) stronger than the previous Friday. The rand was quoted at R15.52 (21c) stronger against the pound than the previous Friday, and gained 19c against the euro on R13.46.

Given the stronger rand and the decrease in the international oil price, the over-recovery for both petrol and diesel increased further during last week.

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