Members of the ANC outside the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down yesterday. Picture: AP
JOHANNESBURG - The rand strengthened yesterday amid ongoing talks within the ANC regarding President Jacob Zuma’s future, while stocks dropped to four-month lows tracking global markets lower on fears that central banks will tighten policy.

At 5.22pm the rand was up 0.44percent from its New York close on Friday to R12.0332 to the dollar. It was, however, 2.24c weaker than at the same time on Friday.

The rand lifted as the ANC met yesterday to discuss Zuma’s future amid growing pressure on the 75-year-old leader to step down as head of state over corruption allegations and a weakened economy.

The rand has tended to strengthen on signs that Zuma could step down before his second term as president ends next year.

Zuma has been in a weakened position since he was replaced as leader of the ANC in December by Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president.

“The political roulette continues. The market will continue to honour the fact that Ramaphosa has begun taking important decisions in the background,” Commerzbank analysts said in a research note.

Government bonds were slightly weaker, with the yield on the benchmark 2026 instrument up 1 basis points to 8.51percent.

On the bourse, the all share index closed down 2.63percent to four-month lows of 57113.74 points, while the benchmark JSE Top40 index fell 2.72percent to 50496.3 points, a level it last reached in October 2017.

JSE-listed shares tracked global markets with European indices opening lower as resurgent US inflation raised the possibility central banks would tighten policy more aggressively than had been expected.

“We saw weakness in the US last week and that carried on to the Far East, and we carried on from there,” said Independent Securities trader, Ryan Woods, adding that South Africa-listed shares across the board had been soft.

Naspers retreated 3.88percent to R3120, MTN lowered 4.71percent to R124.93 and Capitec Bank weakened 6.45percent to R864.66.

Among other decliners were Steinhoff, down 6.53percent to R6.15, Tiger Brands, which dropped 4.79percent to R444.63, Standard Bank 3.96percent lower at R195.09 and Life Healthcare, which fell 3.84percent to R26.05