South African shares shrug banking crisis, rand slips

A street money changer counts South African Rands in Harare
A street money changer counts South African Rands in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

JOHANNESBURG, March 20 (Reuters) - South African shares strengthened on Monday despite a global banking crisis as investors rushed into safe haven resource stocks, while the risk-sensitive rand weakened.

At 1616 GMT, the rand traded at 18.5250 against the dollar, 0.65% weaker than its previous close as risk-appetite waned for emerging market currencies amidst the banking crisis.

On the bourse, the resources sector (.JRESI) closed 4.41% higher on concerns over a global banking crisis as investors snapped up gold shares, analysts said.

"We're seeing safety in resources," said Sasfin equity strategist David Shapiro.

Overall, shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange rose, with the blue-chip Top 40 (.JTOPI) closing 2.68% higher while the broader all-share index (.JALSH) ended up 2.4%.

South African markets opened against a tense mood across the country that saw many businesses closed as thousands of protesters marched through South Africa's cities, calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to resign over the lack of jobs and electricity. Security forces guarded malls and streets to prevent any violence and looting.

Tuesday is a public holiday in South Africa and markets will remain closed, but when business resumes on Wednesday, local investors will be looking at monthly inflation figures (ZACPIY=ECI) to be released on Wednesday for clues on the health of South African economy.

A Reuters poll found on Monday that South Africa's Reserve Bank will raise interest rates for the last time in this cycle by 25 basis points on March 30, in anticipation of slower inflation and a weak economy due to power disruptions.

The government's benchmark 2030 bond was stronger with the yield down 6 basis points to 9.975%.

Reporting by Tannur Anders and Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Bhargav Acharya/James Macharia Chege

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.