The Rand drifted lower yesterday as investors waited for more clues from the new leader of the ANC. Picture: KEYSTONE/Christian Merz
JOHANNESBURG - The Rand drifted lower yesterday as investors waited for more clues from the new leader of the ANC on how he plans to rejuvenate the economy and when President Jacob Zuma might step down.

At 5pm, the rand bid at R12.1173 to the dollar, slightly weaker than at the same time on Monday, eating into gains of around 1percent a day earlier after the ANC confirmed it was discussing whether to push for Zuma’s removal as head of state.

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

Ramaphosa, currently deputy president, is leading South Africa’s delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos this week and has pledged to fight corruption and woo foreign investment.

His allies in the ANC are pushing for him to take over from Zuma as state president in the coming weeks.

A currency trader at Rand Merchant Bank said the rand was likely to trade in tight ranges until Zuma’s fate became clearer. But a break below R12 to the dollar could trigger further rand gains, he said.

Government bonds were little changed, with the yield for the benchmark 2026 instrument at 8.35percent.

On the equities market, the main stock index closed up 0.68percent at a new record-high of 61475.44 points and the blue chip JSE Top40 index ended up 0.66percent at 54521.81 points.

Lewis Group topped gainers, rising 17.7percent to R28.60 after the budget furniture retailer reported a 13.3 percent rise in same-store quarterly sales.

Mr Price climbed 4.67percent to R270, while FirstRand advanced 3.95percent to R69.13.

Meanwhile, Wall Street’s main indices were higher in afternoon trading as upbeat results from Netflix, Travelers outweighed concerns of the potential impact of President Donald Trump’s decision to impose steep import tariffs.

Netflix had jumped 11percent to a new high of $257.71 (about R3112) after the video-streaming pioneer beat Wall Street targets for new subscribers in the fourth quarter. The stock provided the biggest boost to the Nasdaq.

At 4.46pm, the S&P500 was up 0.09percent at 2835.39 points.