As the world battles the Coronavirus (Convid-19) outbreak, stock markets and currencies are tumbling.
In what has been called Black Monday, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange ( JSE) index declined by over 12 percent resulting in a number of companies losing billions of Rands.
Almost all the big counters that include Old Mutual, MTN, First Rand, Sibanye (-13%), Harmony (-8%) recorded significant declines.
Gold which has proven a safe haven for a jittery market has also taken some beating and retreated from a high of USD$1700 per ounce to below USD$1500 per ounce.
Palladium has nosedived by shedding off over 50 percent off its January price on the back of falling orders for the car industry.
The South African Rand has also fallen sharply from an average of R15 to R 16.7 by close of business on Monday.
Platinum, which has been outshone of late by sister metal palladium, also saw a small reversal of fortunes last week after chemical company BASF said it had successfully developed new autocatalyst technology with partial substitution of palladium for platinum.
It was worth $879/oz a week ago but platinum is now around $672/oz on the spot market.
It had yesterday dipped to $558/oz, its lowest point since October 2002, Reuters reported.
Palladium had risen to an all-time high above $2,800/oz less than a month ago but has tumbled back to $1,500/oz.
Meanwhile, shares in South Africa-based PGM producers have slumped and Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies has warned the country’s miners could face significant losses if the coronavirus is not contained within weeks.
On the Zimbabwean side, there was some restlessness following some fake social media suggesting that Beitbridge border post had been included among ports of entry that had been closed by South African authorities.
The Zimbabwe dollar which for all intents and purposes is fixed remained steady on the formal market despite a statement by Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mthuli Ncube that rates will be market-determined. Over the weekend, the government sought to manage the exchange rate by suspending the ‘fungibility’ of shares for Old Mutual, Seedco International, and PPC.
As the market dithers and waivers, men and women of the cloth in Zimbabwe are seeking to console a fearful population by redirecting attention to the Bible.
The developed markets have dug into their deep pockets by coming up with a number stimulus package. In the United States of America, the FED is pumping in USD$700 billion into the market while China and Japan have come with similar rescue measures.