The Johannesburg Stock Exchange. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko
JOHANNESBURG - Domestic assets were little changed yesterday, with the rand strengthening slightly as the leader of the ANC talked up the prospects for foreign investment at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

At 5pm, the rand bid at R11.8670 to the dollar, 9.60c stronger than at the same time on Wednesday, after hitting a new two-and-a-half year high earlier in the day.

The rand has surged since Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa won the race to succeed Jacob Zuma as ANC leader last month, putting him in pole position to become the country’s next president.

“The market is betting on a fresh start in South African politics,” Commerzbank analysts said in a research note.

Ramaphosa, who has promised to fight corruption and boost economic growth, told a news conference in Davos that investors had warmed to the changes that the South African delegation had highlighted in the country.

“We go back home also with a bag full of investment commitments. Many of the business leaders that I have met here have said they are buoyed by this new mood,” Ramaphosa said.

Government bonds were broadly flat, with the yield on the 2026 benchmark instrument up one basis point to 8.435percent.

On the equities market, rand-hedge shares weighed on gains from the banking and financial sector.

The benchmark JSE Top40 index dipped 0.03percent to 54558.02 points, while the all share index ticked up 0.1percent to 61684.77 points.

British American Tobacco dropped 2.59percent to R829.74, and bourse heavyweight Naspers declined 1.41percent to end the session at R3648.

Further losses were curbed by risk-on sentiment in the banking sector, which rose 2.1percent, and the financial sector, which lifted 1.16percent.

Cratos Capital equities trader Greg Davies said: “Overseas investors are a little underweight in South Africa, and the first place they start buying is banks, financial and industrials.”

On Wall Street, the S&P500 was little changed in the afternoon as early gains spurred by solid earnings reports and a decline in the dollar evaporated and Caterpillar shares turned negative.