File picture: Philimon Bulawayo
JOHANNESBURG - The rand rose yesterday, buoyed by a positive sentiment from the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as the new ANC leader.

Stocks were barely changed as investors took profits from shares that climbed on the back of Ramaphosa’s victory, while Steinhoff dropped sharply in the wake of more bad news in the aftermath of the firm’s accounting irregularities.

Ramaphosa, who is South Africa’s deputy president, was elected ANC leader on Monday, succeeding President Jacob Zuma - whose presidency has been tainted with corruption allegations - as party head.

Expectations that Ramaphosa would win the ANC race had pushed the rand to R12.52 to the dollar on Monday, its firmest since March27, before a cabinet reshuffle by Zuma rocked markets and triggered credit ratings downgrades to “junk”.

At 5pm yesterday, the rand bid at R12.6295 to the greenback, 12.42c frimer than at the same time on Tuesday, just off its nearly nine-month highs scaled earlier this week.

“It is still just optimism about the elective conference,” said chief currency dealer at TreasuryOne, Wichard Cilliers, referring to the five-day ANC meeting to elect new officials.

However, further gains have been held back by investor fears that Ramaphosa may not be able to push through policy changes because the ANC’s top decision making group, known as the “Top Six”, was split down the middle, consisting of three politicians apiece drawn from Ramaphosa’s camp and that of his rival Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

On the bourse, the benchmark JSE Top40 index closed unchanged at 51268.87 points, while the all share index dipped 0.24% to 58032.09 points.

The banking sector fell 2.2percent, with Barclays Africa down 5.31percent to R181.10 and Standard Bank losing 3.35% to R191.26 after the sector rallied on Monday as investors priced-in a Ramaphosa win.

Further losses came from Steinhoff as the stock retreated 34% to end the session at R4.62 after the company said that it had started to lose credit lines from lenders and was still unable to determine the scale of accounting irregularities.