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South Africa posts trade surplus as car exports surge

South African trade swung back to a surplus in February thanks to a leap in car exports, official data showed on Monday. The $163-million (1.72-billion-rand) surplus was driven by a 7.9-percent increase in exports, which were pushed by the car manufacturing, machinery and electronics sectors, according to the South African Revenue Service. Exports of vehicles rose nearly 50 percent as factories -- now back in production after a punishing strike at the end of 2013 -- were able to take advantage of the weak rand.

Director of South Africa IT firm charged with attempted police bribe

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - An executive director of South Africa's Pinnacle Holdings has been charged with offering a $460,000 bribe to a senior police official to win an equipment contract for the technology company, police said on Tuesday. Takalani Tshivhase allegedly offered the 5 million rand bribe to a Lieutenant General in the South African Police Service (SAPS) in exchange for a multi-million rand contract to supply police with devices used in investigations, SAPS said.

Rand hits five-year low amid emerging market turmoil

South Africa's rand hit a fresh five year low on Monday as the currency came under sustained pressure amid a worldwide flight from emerging markets. The rand weakened to 11.25 against the dollar in morning trading, before regaining some ground against the greenback. The South African unit, often seen as a bellwether for emerging market currencies, has been under pressure since the US Federal Reserve announced that it would trim back stimulus spending. "The rand has now fallen by 25 percent against the dollar since last May," said Shilan Shah of Capital Economics.

South Africa platinum talks start, no immediate end seen to strikes

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Government-brokered talks between South Africa's Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the world's top three platinum producers began on Monday in a bid to end a strike that has hit half of global output of the precious metal. Hopes for an immediate resolution to the strike, which began on Thursday, remained dim given AMCU's uncompromising approach to negotiations and with the two sides poles apart over wages.

South Africa's weak rand draws few tourist complaints

Clutching shopping bags, quaffing wine, and lounging on pristine beaches: South Africa's weak rand is drawing few complaints from foreign tourists who these days get more bang for their tourist bucks. The teetering rand, a victim of ongoing emerging market volatility, is tipped to remain on the back foot after hitting a fresh five-year low of around 10.87 against the US dollar. The plunge comes as tourists flock to Cape Town -- named as the world's top place to visit in 2014 by The New York Times -- for the peak southern hemisphere summer season armed with hard currency.

South Africa reports record trade deficit as strikes bite

South Africa turned in a record trade deficit in September, official data showed on Thursday after a raft of auto and mining strikes scuttled exports. The South African economy, the biggest in Africa, showed a trade deficit of 18.94 billion rand ($1.92 billion). Exports fell by 6.0 percent. Vehicle exports fell by 58 percent, in the midst of a wave of auto strikes that crippled the sector for nearly two months. At one point about 30,000 workers had downed tools. Exports from the mining sector, which was also hit by strikes, fell 12 percent.

Strikes hit South African exports

South Africa's trade gap with the rest of the world widened by one third in August as exports decreased by 7.6 percent amid ongoing strikes, according to official data released Monday. The deficit grew to 19.05 billion rand ($1.9 billion) from 14.21 billion rand in June, the South African Revenue Service in a statement. "It is quite a bit bigger than what we were hoping for," said Dennis Dykes, chief economist at Nedbank.

Rand pummelled by 'perfect storm'

South Africa's currency has been caught in a brutal pincer of dependence on weak European markets, exposure to slowing emerging markets, domestic turmoil and tighter US monetary policy. The Federal Reserve's announcement on May 22 that it would eventually roll back stimulus was another gust of wind amid a cyclone for the South African rand. Like other emerging market currencies, the South African unit has had a torrid time of late. In January the currency stood at 8.75 rand to the dollar.

Africa's making a killing on the dead

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa and NAIROBI, Kenya – From fish-shaped coffins to slaughtered bulls, funerals in Africa are lavish affairs, providing a lucrative opportunity for insurance companies looking for business in some of the world's fastest growing economies. Many of the insurance industry's big money-spinners in developed markets, like motor insurance and cover for household goods, are irrelevant to the majority of Africans who cannot afford a range of expensive personal possessions.

Lay preacher turned union boss wages South African class war

By Ed Stoddard and Ndundu Sithole JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Addressing thousands of stick-wielding striking platinum miners last month, South Africa's bold new union boss told them proudly that he and his comrades "did not sit in boardrooms." But Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) which has turned South Africa's labor relations on its head, now has the full attention of the directors who sit in them.
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