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Jacob Zuma

South African equity trading volumes are projected to fall by half on Friday as protesters amass across the country to demand the removal of President Jacob Zuma following a cabinet purge that resulted in the country’s credit rating being downgraded to junk.

“It’s quiet,” Michael Porter, a trader at Unum Capital in Johannesburg, said via phone call on Friday. “I don’t know if anybody’s out marching, or whatever they’re doing, but it’s definitely quiet.”

Zuma’s decision to fire Pravin Gordhan as finance minister and make 19 other changes to his administration in a reshuffle announced after midnight on March 31 caused stock volumes to climb to about 344 million shares a day for the next five trading days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Given the volumes traded so far on Friday, that’s projected to drop to 167.2 million shares by the 5 p.m. close in Johannesburg, a 51 percent decline after the flurry of trade that saw bank counters lose about 100 billion rand ($7.3 billion) in value during the five-day period.

While Johannesburg’s biggest stock market decided not to close on Friday, traders were free to choose to protest by stopping orders or joining the various marches, Nicky Newton-King, chief executive officer of JSE Ltd., said by phone on Thursday. Foreign investors have been net sellers of South African equities in the 11 days through Thursday.

 

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