Economists will be scouring economic data for any evidence of a pickup in domestic growth but are likely to get only a mixed bag of muted results. Among the most important releases will be the December producer price index (PPI) due out on Thursday. Most economists expect it to mirror the improvement in consumer inflation experienced during December, owing mainly to a substantial drop in fuel prices. FNB forecasts the PPI to moderate significantly to 6% from 6.8% in November, noting that lower food producer-price inflation should also help drive the index lower. The trade balance for December is also scheduled for release on Thursday. Economists are divided on whether SA’s notoriously volatile trade account will register another surplus. Typically, December is a good month for the trade account as imports usually decline. Investec forecasts a trade surplus of R9.4bn for December which would push SA’s annual trade surplus to R5.2bn for 2018 as a whole.

The outlook for trade rem...

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