Kumba Iron Ore expects headline earnings per share in the six months to June to rise by between 46% and 58% from the same period a year earlier.

In a trading update on Friday, SA’s top-tier iron producer attributed the rise in earnings to higher underlying iron prices, though these were partially offset by a stronger rand.

The benchmark price of ore with 62% iron content delivered to China peaked at $94 a tonne in the first quarter before easing to the current levels of about $63 a tonne.

The share price was, however, off 3.2% to R167.94 in early trade on the JSE, suggesting investors expected higher earnings than the company was able to produce.

The Anglo American subsidiary has had a volatile ride on the JSE, peaking at R213 in the first half of 2017 before pulling back in line with iron prices. The current share price values Kumba at R53.8bn.

The Kumba trading update also weighed on Exxaro Resources and African Rainbow Miners, whose share prices both declined 2%.

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