UPDATE 1-South African rand tumbles on blackouts shock, platinum and gold shares shine

(Adds latest prices, analyst comments)

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 10 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand tumbled to a two-week low on Tuesday, along with bonds and stocks, as a deepening power crisis and the spreading impact on business operations rattled investor sentiment.

At 1500 GMT the rand was 1% weaker at 14.8150, its worst level since Nov. 26, bringing losses since the beginning of the month to more than 2% as the growth prospects of Africa’s most developed economy dimmed significantly.

Mines across the country shut down as flash flooding strained power utility Eskom’s already creaking coal plants, triggering the largest blackouts in more than a decade, threatening a key export sector and source of state revenues.

Harmony Gold, Impala Platinum, and Sibanye-Stillwater all said they had been forced to cut production since Monday owing to power shortages.

Eskom’s bonds also suffered, with its 2023 dollar bond down 1.4 cents, its biggest daily drop in 16 months, to 99.9 cents on the dollar, while the 2025 issue matched those falls, Tradeweb data showed.

“Mining doesn’t quite make up the big share it once has in GDP, but these are not good preconditions to attract investment and sustain investors’ trust,” said Elisabeth Andreae, FX Analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

Traders also noted that fresh U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods due to kick in on the weekend would further hurt the rand.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark instrument due in 2026 added 5.5 basis points to 8.425%.

On the bourse, stocks were largely flat. The benchmark JSE Top-40 Index was up 0.42% to 49,225.73 points while the broader All-Share Index ticked up 0.01% to 55,276.71 points.

Miners topped the blue-chip index despite some big hitters winding down operations due to the blackouts, as the threat of lower production from South Africa, the world’s largest supplier, pushed up prices.

Spot palladium surpassed $1,900 for the first time ever, while platinum jumped 2.5% and gold was 0.2% firmer.

Impala saw its share soar 3.5% to 131 rand, Northam’s price climbed 4.6% to 118 rand, and Anglo’s platinum operation gained 2.32% to 1,239 rand.

AngloGold Ashanti was up 4.29% while Sibanye climbed 3.5%. Rival Gold Fields climbed 2.6%.

“The biggest value of the mines is what’s still in the ground,” said Wayne McCurrie from FNB Wealth and Investments.

“Two or three days of loadshedding on mines is not that important. It’s a lot more negative for retail shares and banking shares because if you lose a sale it’s gone,” McCurrie added. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Naledi Mashishi; editing by Jonathan Oatis)