South African Reserve Banks Ups Interest Rate to 5.5 Percent

South African Reserve Banks Ups Interest Rate to 5.5 Percent

Written by Patrick McGroarty | From The Wall Street Journal

South Africa’s central bank on Wednesday raised its key interest rate, aiming to halt a rush out of its bonds and currency spurred by a run on faltering emerging-markets around the world.

South African Reserve Bank Gov. Gill Marcus said the bank’s monetary policy committee voted to raise the so-called repo rate by 0.50 point to 5.5%. It was an unexpected move, and South Africa’s first rate change since a half-point cut 18 months ago.

But in the past week, the ground has shifted in the global economy. Investors have hammered South Africa and other emerging markets with wide current-account deficits and domestic political problems.

Facing similar pressures, India’s central bank raised its key rate by 0.25 percentage point on Tuesday to 8%. Turkey’s central bank increased its overnight lending rate to 12% from 7.75%, and its repo rate to 10% from 4.5%.

As the U.S. Federal Reserve dials back its expansive bond-buying program, traders expect Treasury yields to rise, giving them less incentive to shoulder the increased political risks that come with higher yields on emerging-market assets.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal