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Monthly Investment Report - Pension Fund

March 2022

The FTSE JSE All Share Index bucked the trend with positive performance of 2.4% for the quarter. This came as a result of stellar performance by financial and resources stocks. Notwithstanding a relatively good 1Q22 performance, the index ended the month of March flat. Though the strong Rand may have put some pressure on Resource shares, the local currency strength was huge a support for Fshares. The Rand put in a strong performance - up 5.2% for the month against the US dollar and 8.3% firmer for 1Q22/YTD. Some of the JSE-listed companies with predominantly foreign earnings were hindered by the stronger Rand - Anheuser Busch InBev lost 8.1% MoM and British American Tobacco ended the month 8.4% lower.

On the local economic data front, February's annual headline inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), came in at 5.7% YoY - unchanged from January's print. Stats SA said the key drivers were once again food (+6.4% YoY) and transportation (+14.3% YoY) costs. Retail sales data from Stats SA showed that January retail trade sales soared 7.7% YoY
(to R76.9bn) compared to an upwardly revised 3.2% YoY gain for December 2021. This was also the fifth consecutive month of retail activity increasing and the fastest pace since June 2021.

The delayed Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) was released by Stats SA last week and showed that total employment partially recovered in 4Q21, with the number of employed persons increasing by 262,000 from 3Q21 as economic activity bounced back following the July 2021 riots. However, due to a bigger increase in the labour force (i.e., more people willing to work/return to work), the unemployment rate rose from 34.9% in 3Q21 to 35.3% in 4Q21. At the SA Reserve Bank's (SARB's) meeting on 24 March, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) implemented another 25-bpt rate hike, bringing the repo rate to 4.25%.

On the pandemic front, as at 31 March, Department of Health data show that 33.6mn vaccine doses have been administered to date (vs 31.4mn as at 28 February), while the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in SA since the start of the pandemic stood at 3.72mn vs 3.67mn on 28 February.

There was a further easing of level-1 restrictions, including an announcement that wearing masks outside was no longer mandatory, and that venues could accommodate bigger numbers if patrons were vaccinated or could show a negative PCR test. Vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to provide a negative PCR test when entering SA - a boost for the tourism and hospitality sector.

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Posted: 2022/03/21 (08:00:00 AM)




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