A stronger rand forced mining stocks lower on the JSE on Thursday as the local currency hit a three-week intra-day best level.

The release of better than expected consumer inflation data on Wednesday provided a boon to the rand but this, of course, put rand hedges and gold and platinum producers under pressure.

Consumer inflation came in at 6.1% in March after coming in at 6.3% in February. Food inflation appears to be easing as the effects of the devastating drought begin to wane. The crop estimates committee is set to release its third summer production forecast on Tuesday and all indications are that a bumper maize crop can be expected.

At 6.23pm, the rand was at R13.18 to the dollar from Wednesday’s R13.27. At the same time, the benchmark R186 bond was bid at 8.67% from 8.78% previously.

The JSE closed 0.09% lower at 52,496.60 points and the blue-chip top 40 dropped 0.08%. The gold index shed 3.38% and platinums 2.15%. Food and drug retailers dropped 0.68% and resources 0.66%. General retailers rose 1.05%, banks 0.78% and industrials 0.16%.

Old Mutual Equities boutique head Peter Linley said geopolitical tension had put a damper on global stock markets, with US bourses coming off highs, notwithstanding well-received banking results, with the exception of those from Goldman Sachs.

European bourses are expected to trade cautiously ahead of the first round of the French presidential election over the weekend.

Sibanye Gold slumped 4.29% to R29.86 and Anglo American Platinum 5% to R351.50.

Diversified miner BHP Billiton shed 0.36% to R203.77 and Sasol 0.96% to R396.79.

FirstRand gained 1.15% to R48.25 and Standard Bank 0.51% to R142.73.

In retailers, Spar was off 0.56% to R178.50, while Pick n Pay edged up 0.26% to R61.85 after closing weaker on Wednesday following the release of its annual results.

Capital & Counties gave up 1.93% to R53.40 and New Europe Properties 1.52% to R142.50.

Naspers was up 1.15% to R2,478.92.

Futures tracked the JSE with the near-dated top-40 Alsi futures index 0.18% lower at 46,220 points. The number of contracts traded was 19,328 from Wednesday’s 17‚665.

With Maarten Mittner and Reitumetse Pitso

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