The European Central Bank (ECB) held its key interest rates steady, at its record low of 0.05 percent. The ECB is embarking on the programme of quantitative easing (QE) - 1.1 trillion euro bond-buying stimulus program - with a view to raising euro zone inflation from below zero back towards its goal of just under 2 percent, and to helping buoy economies across the 19-country bloc.
South Africa’s trade balance reversed from a R6.7bn surplus in December to a staggering R24.4bn deficit in January — its worst since January 2013 — as exports tumbled and imports rose. The rand weakened as investors’ fear that the current account of the balance of payments would continue to be under pressure, making SA more vulnerable to capital outflows.
Operating conditions at South African private-sector companies stabilised last month, according to the purchasing managers index (PMI). The seasonally adjusted HSBC/Markit whole economy PMI rose from 49.8 in January to 50 last month as output levels increased.
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