President Cyril Ramaphosa     Picture: Elmond Giyane/GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa Picture: Elmond Giyane/GCIS
JOHANESBURG - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa suffered the same false start as his predecessor nine years ago: a recession in his first six months in office.

The economy unexpectedly contracted an annualized 0.7 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said in a statement Tuesday. That compares with a decline of 2.6 percent in the first quarter and is the first recession since 2009.

The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey was for 0.6 percent expansion. The economy grew 0.4 percent from a year earlier.

Slack farming output and soft consumer spending has put pressure on Africa’s most-industrialized economy. Ramaphosa’s ascent to power since December initially boosted sentiment and the rand following Jacob Zuma’s corruption-plagued tenure of almost nine years, but that optimism has faded as structural reforms aren’t implemented fast enough and global trade wars, turmoil in other emerging markets sour sentiment.

The rand fell 2.3 percent to 15.2094 per dollar by 11:45 a.m. in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

A contraction for the fourth quarter of 2016 was later revised to show growth, resulting in this being the first recession since the financial crisis of 2009.

- BLOOMBERG