The South African rand fell on Wednesday after a surprise interest rate cut by the country’s central bank, while broader emerging market risk assets retreated amid continued focus on the coronavirus outbreak.
The rand weakened about 1.5% to the dollar after South Africa’s central bank delivered a surprise 100 basis point rate cut on Tuesday to cushion the economy from the outbreak.
The bank also signalled more action to support the economy, which it now sees shrinking by about 6% in 2020 due to added disruptions from the virus. South African stocks fell 2.8%.
Broader emerging markets were also on the backfoot, with the MSCI’s stock index shedding about 0.5%, while currencies fell 0.2%.
Investors were cautiously looking to the possible opening up of major economies, given that virus cases were seen peaking in the United States (US) and Europe.
However, the pandemic’s economic impact is expected to run rampant, with the International Monetary Fund now expecting the global economy to mark its steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“It is not (yet) clear whether economies will recover quickly or whether it might take longer than assumed so that weare more likely to see an L-shaped recovery as standard. That means the worst might be yet to come, facing the market with a nice bucket challenge,” Commerzbank analyst Antje Praefcke wrote in a note.
Russia’s rouble fell about 1.2%, while stocks shed 2.7% after new coronavirus cases in the countryrose at a record daily pace on Wednesday.
Hungarian stocks fell about 4%, leading losses among their peers, while the forint retreated slightly against the euro.
Chinese stocks fell, while the yuan also retreated after the country’s central bank cut medium-term borrowing costs to their lowest level on record, in a bid to increase liquidity in face of the outbreak.
Markets will now turn to the US corporate earnings season for cues on the full impact of the coronavirus outbreak on company results and forecasts.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the @SAReserveBank has decided to cut the repo rate by 100 basis points. This takes the repo rate to 4.25% per annum.
— SA Reserve Bank (@SAReserveBank) April 14, 2020
In this video, Economist Dawie Roodt the impact of the repo rate cut