South African shares, rand pummeled as banking crisis spreads

Photo illustration of South African bank notes displayed next to the American dollar notes in Johannesburg
South African bank notes featuring images of former South African President Nelson Mandela (R) are displayed next to the American dollar notes in this photo illustration in Johannesburg, File. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG, March 15 (Reuters) - South African shares and the rand plummeted on Wednesday as the U.S. banking crisis spread to Europe and continued to wreak havoc on global markets.

The country's blue-chip Top 40 (.JTOPI) and its broader all-share (.JALSH) indexes fell around 3% to the lowest they have been this year.

"My big fear is that it leads to a crisis of confidence, that's more of an issue than the reality of what's happening to the banks," Sasfin equity strategist David Shapiro told Reuters, referring to the falling stocks.

Among fallers, shares in the banking sector (.JBANK) slipped 2.78%, reflecting global market sentiment.

This decline comes after Credit Suisse's (CSGN.S) biggest investor said it was unable to increase its stake, citing regulatory issues about the size of its holding.

At 1608 GMT, the rand traded at 18.4025 against the dollar, 1.56% weaker than its previous close.

Data from Statistics South Africa showed retail sales (ZARET=ECI) fell 0.8% year on year in January after falling by a revised 0.5% in December.

The country's benchmark 2030 government bond slipped in afternoon deals, with the yield up 3 basis points at 10.045%.

Reporting by Tannur Anders and Alexander Winning; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Anait Miridzhanian

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