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SA tech stock bloodbath

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South Africa's tech and telecoms stocks plummeted on Thursday as worries over the worsening spread of the coronavirus caused massive equity sell-offs.

The worst-hit local telecoms company was Cell C's major shareholder, Blue Label Telecoms, which saw its stock plummet by over 17% on Thursday to R2.03 (US$0.12). Pan-African operators MTN and Vodacom saw their stock fall by over 13% and 5% respectively, to R54.39 ($3.35) and R104.14 ($6.41) per share. Meanwhile Telkom's share price dipped by almost 7.5% to R23.39 ($1.44).

The negative sentiment associated with the US and Europe's slow policy responses to coronavirus have seen a sell-off sweeping through global equity markets, including South Africa.

According to Bloomberg, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange's (JSE's) benchmark stock index plunged the most since the market crash of October 1997. The FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index fell by 9.7% by the close of the market in Johannesburg on Thursday.

South African media and Internet giant Naspers which is also the biggest stock on the JSE also fell 8% on Thursday, to R2283.13 ($140.54) per share.

There are over 134,000 cases of coronavirus globally and over 4,970 have died, according to the latest Reuters tally.

In South Africa 17 cases have been reported but there have been no fatalities so far.

Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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