SA business confidence rises in April on post-election hopes

South Africa‘s business confidence rose in April as retail sales and import volumes improved alongside a firmer currency, a survey showed on Tuesday, lifting sentiment from a seven month low as businesses also saw a stable post-election policy environment.

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s monthly business confidence index (BCI) rose to 93.7 in April from 91.8 in March, the business body said.

The reading was the highest since January, and had also been soothed by the increased focus on the economy in the run up to parliamentary and provincial elections on Wednesday.

“The common theme of election manifesto policies among the parties to drive economic growth and job creation seems to resonate well with the markets,” Sacci said in a statement.

“Business confidence is likely to be emboldened by a resounding victory of President Ramaphosa within the ANC.”

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While a victory for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is almost certain, its majority is likely to shrink, constraining Ramaphosa’s reform and keep the economy on slow burn.

Five of the thirteen sub-indices improved compared to March, while five were unchanged and three declining.

Business reported an improved exchange rate against the major trading and investment currencies, higher share prices on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, increased real value building plans passed, real retail sales, and merchandise import volumes.

The rand has gained close to 3% against the dollar since the beginning of April, better than many of its emerging market peers, while the Top-40 Index has rallied nearly 7%, shooting through 52 000 mark.

“The outcome of elections should bring more clarity to business and enhance better planning and decision making,” Sacci said.