February 14, 2018 / 7:32 AM / 8 months ago

South African rand firms on talk Zuma will resign, Gupta arrest

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 14 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand firmed on Wednesday on expectations President Jacob Zuma would offer his formal resignation after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party ordered the 75-year old to step down.

At 0714 GMT, the rand was 0.8 percent firmer at 11.8590 to the dollar.

Zuma is expected to respond on Wednesday to the ANC’s order to step down as head of state, party officials said, after the party gave him no firm deadline to resign.

“After waiting for so long for such a major event, we still think that a formal resignation/removal will trigger some sharp gains, even if only temporarily,” Rand Merchant Bank analyst John Cairns said in a note.

The presidency told the media on Wednesday to “await official notification” of a briefing by Zuma, amid expectations of his resignation.

Gains were supported after a police unit raided the home of the Gupta family, wealthy friends of Zuma, with local police reporting that one member of the family has been arrested.

The Guptas are accused by the public anti-graft watchdog of using their friendship with Zuma to influence policy and amass wealth. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Bonds were stronger with the yield on the benchmark 2026 government issue down 5.5 basis points to 8.400 percent.

Stocks were firmer, with the Johannesburg bourse’s index of 40 blue-chip stocks up 0.3 percent to 50,540 points, while the All-Share index lifted 0.21 percent to 57,330 points (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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