NMG Mercado Released [23 March 2015]
The current account deficit narrowed to 5.1% of GDP for the fourth quarter of 2014, whilst economists had expected a gap of 5.8%. Exports gained during the last three months of the year, as a result of a decreased number of strikes and normal trading activity. On a year-on-year basis, the deficit narrowed to 5.4% in 2014, from 5.8% in the previous year. Retail trade sales slowed in January 2015, with numbers expected to fall further as consumers face petrol and electricity hikes. Retail sales grew by only 1.7%, after gaining 2.0% during the last month of 2014. The power utility, Eskom, took another hit last week as the Standard & Poors rating agency downgraded them to BB- following the suspension of management. The local currency fell after the announcement, however it is expected to gain some ground this week.