London — SA will learn soon whether Cyril Ramaphosa’s first month as president has saved the country’s last remaining investment-grade rating, but even if it hasn’t, a broader rise in optimism should limit the damage. Moody’s, with a downgrade review on SA since November, is to make a decision by March 23. A cut to junk — following downgrades by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings — will see the country ejected from Citi’s influential World Government Bond Index (WGBI), triggering up to R100bn in selling by foreign investors. It is a prospect that sends a chill down the spine of officials who know the odds are not in their favour. "It is very difficult to read the body language of the rating agencies," new Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said in London this week, having just meet Moody’s. "If there was a downgrade that would have a negative effect". Moody’s rarely spares those it puts on a downgrade warning. Only seven of the dozens of countries it has had on review over the last tw...

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