Credit rating agencies to announce decision on South Africa today

Credit rating agencies to announce decision on South Africa today

South Africa's economy is on the brink of losing its investment-grade ranking on local currency debt from Moody's and S&P Global Ratings.

"We expect that offsetting fiscal measures will be proposed in the forthcoming 2018 budget in February next year, but these may be insufficient to stabilize public finances in the near term, contrary to our previous expectations".

The rand, which had been trading around R13.90 to the U.S. dollar before the announcement, immediately lost 25 cents, to trade at R14.15/$.

Thirteen of 25 economists surveyed on Monday said either S&P Global Ratings or Moody's was likely to cut the local currency rating to junk on Friday.

S&P's move comes amid worsening economic data and as tensions rise within the African National Congress, which will choose a new party leader in December to replace President Jacob Zuma.

"Having engaged with the ratings agencies and the International Monetary Fund we are told that the government is contemplating what measures to take, but they are only due in the February budget", said the bank's senior economist for South Africa, Ferhan Salman.

Muscat says it's a combination of slow economic growth - which treasury revised from 1,3% to 0,7% for 2017 - as well as poor fiscal metrics.

"Growth prospects are weaker and material budgetary revenue shortfalls have emerged alongside increased spending pressures". "Moody's will see what happens with elective conference and budget in February 2018". This will also allow Moody's to assess the policy implications of political developments during the review period, the group said.

Fitch downgraded SA to BB+ from BB- on both foreign and local currency debt in early April after a Cabinet reshuffle that saw finance minister Pravin Gordhan dismissed.

"South Africa's ratings are weighed down by low trend growth, sizeable government debt and contingent liabilities and deteriorating governance standards", Fitch said in a statement.

One of the biggest consequences of a full junk rating from these firms is that South Africa will be kicked out of the World Government Bond Index, which would lead to a forced sell-off of South African bonds.

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