South Africa's currency and its stocks tumbled on Monday after S&P Global Ratings cut the country's sovereign credit rating into junk territory. The ratings agency cited last week's firing of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan by President Jacob Zuma as the catalyst for the decision, saying Gordhan's ouster "increased the likelihood that economic growth...could suffer." The rand fell 2% to 13.68 to the dollar following the decision, compared with 13.42 late Friday in New York. The iShares MSCI South Africa Exchange-Traded Fund, which track's the country's stock market, was off 1.5% at $54.38 in recent trade. Both the rand, and the country's stocks, sold off sharply last week after Zuma recalled Gordhan from an investor roadshow abroad, igniting speculation that the finance minister would soon be fired. The rand had been until recently one of the best-performing emerging-market currencies, but has fallen about 7% against the dollar in the past week. Both Fitch and Moody's Investors Service maintain investment-grade credit ratings on the country's debt.
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