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Fitch revises S.Africa outlook to negative, affirms at BBB

AFP

Men leave a Cash Loan shop in the South African Platinum hub of Marikana April 2, 2014Men leave a Cash Loan shop in the South African Platinum hub of Marikana April 2, 2014

Men leave a Cash Loan shop in the South African Platinum hub of Marikana April 2, 2014Men leave a Cash Loan shop in the South African Platinum hub of Marikana April 2, 2014

Fitch ratings agency on Friday revised the outlook on South Africa to negative from stable and affirmed its credit rating at 'BBB', near the bottom of the investment-grade scale.

The ratings agency said the outlook revision was partly due a strike at platinum mines, the country's longest-ever mining strike that began in January when workers downed tools demanding higher wages.

On Thursday, the country's three top platinum producers -- Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin -- said they had "in principle" reached a deal to end the 21-week deadlock over pay.

Fitch said South Africa's outlook for growth had deteriorated after a contraction in the first quarter of this year, and it revised its 2014 GDP forecast down to 1.7 percent from the 2.8 percent that it issued during the last country review in December 2013.

The agency said that the government "faces a challenging task to raise the country's growth rate and improve social conditions, which has been made more difficult by the weaker growth performance and deteriorating trends in governance and corruption."

"This will require an acceleration of structural reforms," it said. "In Fitch's view, the track record of some key ministerial appointments and shortcomings in administrative capacity mean this is subject to downside risks."

South Africa holds around 80 percent of the world's known platinum reserves, and platinum group metals raked in 9.0 percent of export earnings last year.

The mining strike helped push the economy into its first contraction since the global economic crisis five years ago in the first quarter of this year, raising the spectre of recession.

Date created : 2014-06-13