Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

Banking stocks slumped on Tuesday, as sentiment towards emerging markets soured.

The big four banks — FirstRand, Standard Bank, Barclays Africa and Nedbank — shed a combined R47bn in market value on the JSE, as the rand dropped more than 2% against the dollar, in its biggest one-day fall since October.

The sharp decline in the value of the rand suggests foreigners are offloading either local stocks or bonds, or both.

The selling in local assets came as the Turkish lira plumbed a record low against the dollar amid political and economic concerns. Recent increases in interest rates failed to stem the slide in the lira.

The concern over Turkey comes as markets are nervous about Argentina, which recently went cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund for assistance.

"We get a sense that the market could be in for a rough ride based on the bad news coming out of some of the emerging-market constituencies, specifically Argentina and Turkey," said Ashley Dickinson, head of fixed-income dealing at Sasfin Wealth.

Adding to the wave of worry was rising US treasury yields, which bolstered the value of the dollar to the detriment of the rand and other emerging-market currencies.

The US Federal Reserve is in a rate-hiking cycle and is expected to raise rates at least twice more in 2018. This tends to detract from the allure of equities as the return on fixed-income paper is pretty much guaranteed.

These global developments have potentially closed the window for the South African Reserve Bank to consider cutting interest rates further in the foreseeable future.

At the JSE’s close, FirstRand was down 4.55% to R63, Standard Bank 4.84% to R206.88, Barclays Africa 4.06% to R173.65 and Nedbank 4.12% to R294.82. The rand was at R12.59 to the dollar, from Monday’s R12.32, after earlier falling to R12.65.

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