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The JSE is down 12% so far today - it may be on track for its worst day ever

Mar 16 2020 15:00

By lunchtime on Monday, the JSE’s all share index was down 12% as global panic selling intensified.

Last week, the JSE lost 15% of its value – and suffered two of its biggest crashes in the past 40 years. On Monday, the JSE’s all share index dropped by more than 6%, while on Thursday the market lost 9.7%.

If it stays at current levels, the JSE will suffer its biggest ever market loss - beating the 11.7% fall on 20 October 1987, otherwise known as Black Monday. 

Sasol was down 20% again on Monday, to R41 - after briefly dipping below R30 last week.

Mining shares were also hit badly – including Sibanye (-27%), Implats (-25%) and Northam (-24%). 

Old Mutual, which reported its annual results earlier on Monday, lost 19% and was last trading at R11.60. The insurer warned that it won't meet its income targets due to the coronavirus turmoil. FirstRand lost 13%. MTN was down 12% and Naspers lost 11%. 

On Sunday, the US central bank announced an emergency interest rate cut of a full percentage point, which brought rates to between 0% to 0.25%. In reaction, the rand strengthened initially to R16.06/$, as it is offering an attractive interest rate by comparison. The South African repo rate is still at around 6.25%.

But by Monday afternoon, the rand had weakened to R16.68/$.

The Fed rate cut has not done anything to calm panic in the market – and with rates now close to 0%, investors are worried about where future assistance help will come from.

Wayne McCurrie of FNB Wealth and Investments expects that the SA Reserve Bank will cut rates aggressively when it meets later this week.

"You will also hear that this will not help in this environment, but free/ cheaper money is never bad," he tweeted. 

On Sunday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa invoked sweeping emergency powers to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

This included a ban on travel from various countries, as well as the closing of 35 land ports of entry, and two of the country's eight seaports. He warned that the economic impact of the coronavirus is likely to be severe, but promised a fiscal relief package will be introduce to minimise damage to the economy.

US futures slumped on Monday, and trading had to stop after maximum losses were reached.

The Australian stock market suffered a record slump (-9.7%) on Monday, while Asian markets were also down.

McCurrie cautioned investors to remain calm. 

"As in every other market rout, panic abounds. The reason for this panic is different as it every time. You will only hear terrifying stories. You will feel that the world is coming to an end as we know it. You will feel helpless. All of this is normal in a crash.

"A buying opportunity will arise from this collapse," he added. While he believes the market may still shed another 10%, they were already offering good value. "Best advice: stay calm and wash your hands."

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