South Africa’s rand fell to a record low against the dollar on Wednesday.
The sharp move lower came after the country’s President Jacob Zuma issued an unexpected statement saying he was removing its finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene.
In a statement on the presidency’s website, which crashed shortly after the announcement crossed, the president said the minister had done well in a “difficult economic climate.”
The rand plunged 3% to as low as 15.0563 against the dollar.
Just like many other currencies used by countries that are big commodity exporters, the rand has been punished this year.
South Africa is a major producer of metals including platinum and gold. And as the prices of those commodities dropped with virtually everything else, the country’s economy felt the pain.
On Tuesday, South Africa reported that its current account deficit — or the excess of imports over exports — widened to 4.1% of GDP in the third-quarter.
And it seems this announcement was just another reason for traders to be concerned about Africa’s second-largest economy.
This week, the Australian dollar and the Canadian dollar also took a beating this week as crude oil fell to new six-year lows.
And across emerging-market currencies, the surging dollar has been a drag, as the Federal Reserve prepares to raise interest rates for the first time in nine years while many other central banks ease monetary policy.
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