Image: Simon Dawson

SA’s electricity crisis and far worse than expected December retail data saw the rand weaken from R13.73/$ on Wednesday to R14.07/$ in the early hours of Thursday.

The rand weakened from R17.67/£ to R18.09/£, but managed to hold below R16/€, weakening from R15.38/€ to R15.85/€.

More bad news arrived on Thursday morning with Eskom announcing a fifth day of rolling blackouts, although its level has improved from Monday’s stage 4 to stage 2.

Image: Iress

The rand was trading at R14.05/$, R15.84/€, and R18.07/£ at 6.45am.

Just how badly SA’s GDP fared in 2018 will be revealed on Thursday with Stats SA’s scheduled release of December’s wholesale trade figures at 10am, mining production and sales at 11.30am, and motor trade sales at 1pm.

The economists’ consensus is the annual decline in SA’s mining production will slow to about 0.6% in December from November’s 5.6%.

On Wednesday, Stats SA reported December’s retail sales fell 1.4% instead of rising the expected 2.7%.

Retailer and manufacturer Italtile said in a trading statement on January 28 that it expected to report on Thursday that its interim headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the six months to end-December grew by about 13%.

In Hong Kong, Naspers’s dominant asset, Tencent, was down 1.21% to HK$343.60, reflecting a generally jittery market ahead of two days of trade talks between US and Chinese officials in Beijing.