South Africa Most Exposed to Brexit Fallout in Region, Moody’s Says

South Africa, Capital Markets in Africa: South Africa’s reliance on foreign money to finance the shortfall on its current account makes it the most vulnerable in sub-Saharan Africa to fallout from the U.K.’s vote to quit the European Union, Moody’s Investors Service said.

“South Africa’s current-account deficit leaves it vulnerable to short-term capital outflows amid changes in investors’ risk perceptions and appetite,” Moody’s Vice President and Senior Analyst Zuzana Brixiova wrote in an e-mailed report released on Friday. “The extent of South Africa’s integration into global financial markets, including its investment and financial links with the U.K. means it is the region’s most exposed sovereign to the immediate financial sector fallout from Brexit.”

Africa’s most-industrialized economy depends on capital inflows to fund the shortfall on its current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, putting it at the mercy of global investor sentiment. The deficitwidened to 5 percent of gross domestic product in the three months through March. South Africa’s currency initially under-performed most emerging markets after the Brexit vote, reflecting the economy’s dependence on investors’ money and close links with the U.K., Moody’s said.

The rand strengthened by 0.4 percent to 14.7023 per dollar by 2:25 p.m. in Johannesburg on Friday after weakening to as low as 15.6819 on June 24 after the Brexit result. More global liquidity due to reduced chances of a U.S. rate hike and an expansionary monetary stance by the Bank of England could increase the likelihood of the rand stabilizing, Moody’s said.

While South Africa will avoid slipping into a recession this year for the first time since 2009, any recovery will be adversely affected by increased risk aversion and reduced investor appetite toward emerging markets, Brixiova said. On Thursday, the International Monetary Fund cut its 2016 growth forecast for South Africa’s economy to 0.1 percent from 0.6 percent. Low commodity prices and the worst drought in more than a century contributed to a 1.2 percent contraction in gross domestic product in the first quarter.

Moody’s left South Africa’s credit rating at two levels above non-investment grade in May. S&P Global Ratings kept its assessment at BBB-, one level above junk, last month and warned it could cut the nation’s debt evaluation unless more is done to boost growth and combat political and labor instability. Fitch Ratings Ltd. also kept its evaluation of South Africa’s debt at one level above junk.

Source: Bloomberg Business News

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