Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

The JSE ended Friday lower on softer banks and financials, with platinums and retailers staging a strong comeback toward the close.

Trading was thin ahead of the US long weekend, with markets there closed on Presidents’ day on Monday.

Local market focus was starting to shift to the budget speech on February 22.

At the bourse’s close commodities were mixed, with gold holding above $1,241 an ounce, while platinum was 0.27% weaker at $1,008 an ounce. Brent crude had lost 0.72% to $55.31 a barrel.

Banks were under pressure for most of the day following an announcement by the Competition Commission that it would prosecute 17 local and international banks for collusion and price-fixing in the foreign-exchange market.

Investec and Standard Bank could face up to R69.7bn in fines, based on 10% of turnover. Investec said in a statement on Friday it was seeking further clarity from the commission on the charges. "We note that the case against Investec Limited is confined to the conduct of a single trader who is employed by the bank."

The sector pared some of its earlier losses in early afternoon trade, but was again under pressure by the close. Upside momentum would now largely hinge on technical factors related to the rand, analysts at Momentum SP Reid said.

"Any evidence of profit-taking on the rand would create marginal downside on financial and banking counters in the sessions ahead," Momentum said.

The rand was marginally weaker, at R13.06/$ by the JSE’s close, from Thursday’s R13.02.

European markets tracked Asian markets lower on the day following conflicting messages from European Central Bank (ECB) minutes released on Thursday.

"ECB members indicated that despite the ongoing pick-up in headline inflation, it was still premature to consider that a very substantial degree of monetary accommodation was no longer warranted," Barclays Research analysts said in a note.

The Dow was 0.34% weaker at the JSE’s close after a lacklustre performance on Thursday, perhaps indicating the market was taking a breather from the record-breaking run where it finished at highs for five consecutive sessions.

The all share closed 0.69% lower at 52,223.50 points and the blue-chip top 40 shed 0.90%. Banks dropped 1.26%, resources 0.88% and financials 0.77%. Platinums firmed 1.21%. After being down nearly 1% in early morning trade, general retailers recovered to close 0.76% higher.

The all share lost 0.88% in the week but was still up 3.1% in 2017.

BHP Billiton closed 1.57% lower at R225.45 while Kumba Iron Ore gained 2.69% to R215.35.

Gold Fields lost 1.87% to R44.16.

Anglo American Platinum jumped 4.53% to R327.59 and Northam 3.66% to R53.50.

Standard Bank led the losses in the big four, closing 1.33% lower at R146.35. Barclays Africa gave up 1.28% to R160.89, FirstRand 1.11% to R51.90 and Investec plc 1.34% to R94.88.

In financials, Old Mutual lost 1.27% to R34.90 and Sanlam 2.11% to R67.25.

Truworths leapt 5.66% to R89. On Thursday afternoon it reported unchanged sales for the for the 26 weeks ended December 25.

Woolworths was down 1.3% to R69.58 after reporting disappointing interim results on Thursday.

Shoprite relinquished 2.04% to R173.05 and Steinhoff 1.37% to R66.80.

Murray and Roberts was up 2.67% to R15.40 after its share price rocketed 34% on Thursday. In a later statement the group said it had no idea who the buyer of its shares was.

New Europe Property Investments added 0.64% to R153.38 and Hyprop 0.95% to R124.18.

Naspers ended the day 0.67% weaker at R2,152.

Brait shed 1.5% to R75.68.

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