South Africa

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Rising uncertainty over fiscal policy has seen South Africa’s sovereign credit cut to junk status by two rating agencies, although the move appears to have had only a modest impact on the currency thus far, with inflation still within the target range.

Welcome rains in late summer and autumn brought some respite for South Africa’s agricultural producers towards the end of 2016, helping to boost yields and improving the chances of recovery after a two-year contraction.

In a move that bucked broader trends on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), South Africa’s banks saw their share prices jump in 2016, underpinned by a recovery in the commodities market, higher interest earnings and a vote of confidence from ratings agencies.

South Africa’s economy faced another challenging year in 2016, as soft commodity prices, slow domestic demand and an uncertain political outlook combined to limit growth, with prospects for the coming year expected to be only somewhat more positive.

Growth in trading density – a measure of turnover per sq metre of retail space – for South Africa’s larger malls has lagged behind that of smaller shopping centres, in part a reflection of the country’s slowing economy and the rapid increase in the number of dedicated retail properties.

Sales growth in South Africa’s retail sector has cooled, a result of a slow economy and conservative consumer sentiment, but there is cause for cautious optimism as the approach of summer and Christmas is likely to give the sector a lift.

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