JSE closes lower in thin trade as market adopts cautious stance
The JSE all share closed weaker on Friday in the shortened trading week following the Easter weekend, with broad-based losses as platinums retreated and general retailers failed to capitalise on a stronger rand.
Volumes were low with the values of trade at R10bn at the close, from R19bn on Thursday.
Sentiment was cautious ahead of the French elections over the weekend following another terrorist attack in Paris in which a French policeman was killed.
"The jitters in the French elections were accelerated by the shooting in Paris on Thursday night, and as polls show centrist Emmanuel Macron beating the far-right, anti-EU Marine Le Pen," said TreasuryOne dealer Phillip Pearce. "The elections are close, and if we learnt anything from last year, polls have a large room for error."
The stronger rand played havoc with the market during the week, as miners and rand hedges felt the full effect of the stronger local currency, which gained 2% to the dollar. Normally the stronger rand would support local banks and retailers, but both sectors were under pressure in the week amid tepid growth expectations for the rest of the year.
The IMF has lowered GDP growth expectations for the local economy to 0.8% this year.
The all share ended the week 2.46% lower, which marks its steepest weekly decline since December.
According to recent polls the medium forecast for the probability of a recession in SA rose sharply in April, to 45%, from 20% in March.
"The recent political noise and credit ratings downgrades have turned the market increasingly bearish on growth and hawkish on inflation and interest rate trends," analysts at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking said.
Commodity prices showed less positive reaction to the weaker dollar than in the past. Gold was relatively flat at $1,283 an ounce, as safe-haven demand kept the price relatively elevated, while platinum shed 0.34% to $971,96.
Brent crude dropped 0.77% to $52.53 a barrel.
The Dow Jones was flat at the JSE’s close, with the Paris CAC 40 0.18% off. The German Dax had added 0.24%.
The all share closed 0.58% lower at 52,194.60 points and the blue-chip top 40 dropped 0.51%. Platinums ended the day 2.10% lower, and general retailers 1.17%. Property lost 1.07%, gold 0.70%, resources 0.68% and industrials 0.54%.
Global diversified miner Anglo American closed 1.70% lower at R188.55, while Kumba Iron Ore lifted 3.50% to R184.75.
Rand hedge British American Tobacco lost 0.98% to R873.65.
PSG was 0.68% softer at R262.20. The investment holding group ended the week 3.66% higher as the market warmed to the group following the release of its annual results.
Among the platinum miners Anglo American Platinum lost 2.52% to R342.63 and Northam Platinum 3.19% to R51.51.
Sanlam lost 1.33% to R68 and Discovery 1.03% to R127.18. S&P Global Ratings warned in the week that insurers were set to struggle to grow premiums and profits amid weakening economic growth.
In retailers, Massmart plummeted 8.14% to R128.50 following results from Pick n Pay earlier in the week, reflecting lower than expected sales growth. Pick n Pay was 0.57% lower at R61.50 and Mr Price shed 0.97% to R152.75.
Clicks ended the day 1.01% lower at R131.16. The group said earlier it grew its overall interim income 11% to R13.5bn and after-tax profit 14.5% to R582.8m.
Property group Redefine lost 1.36% to R10.85 and New Europe Property Investments 0.95% to R141.15.
Naspers lost 0.56% to R2,465.
Food producer Pioneer dropped 4.38% to R169 after calling off a potential deal with agribusiness Zeder Investments.
Life Healthcare was up 4.96% to R27.72.
Mondi was up 0.73% to R329.40.
Education group Advtech closed 1.98% lower at R18.30.
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