JSE. Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK
JSE. Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK

The JSE closed firmer in volatile trade on Monday as industrials and larger mining groups gained on the weaker rand, while gold shares were sold off on the stronger dollar and weaker spot price.

The rand lost more than 2% against the dollar in intraday trade after comments by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on the independence of the Reserve Bank. It later recovered as analysts said it was unlikely that the Constitution would be changed from the present Reserve Bank mandate to ensure price stability, as she suggested.

"It was far more likely that government would look at other steps, such as introducing prescribed assets or tightening exchange control, before changing the independence of the Reserve Bank," said Capicraft Investment Partners analyst Drikus Combrinck.

He said prescribed assets in the bond market was a route taken in the 1980s by the then Nationalist government. It meant institutions would be forced to invest a certain percentage of their assets in bonds.

"It could lead to a weaker rand," Combrinck said.

Banks initially weakened on Mkhwebane’s comments before later recovering. Absa, however, was hard hit on the public protector’s recommendation that it pay back more than R1bn of a Bankorp lifeboat during the 1980s.

Industrials were firmer on a strong performance from Naspers, which jumped nearly 4%, following an earlier subdued response to a trading update indicating an expected annual 4%-10% rise in headline earnings per share to end-March. Core headline earnings per share were set to rise by between 33% and 39%.

Naspers was supported by brisk trade in shares of its Chinese investment Tencent, in which it has a 34% stake. Tencent was up 2.27% in Hong Kong trade, following widespread profit-taking among global tech stocks last week.

Naspers ended the day 3.88% higher at R2,594.91.

The gold price was 0.42% lower at $1,248.12 an ounce on the stronger dollar while platinum shed 0.52% to $921.71.

The gold price was trading at a three-week low after the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates last week, said TreasuryOne analyst Gerard van der Westhuizen. He said a further hike might be in the pipeline later in 2017.

The big miners with foreign exposure shrugged off the possible negative effects of the latest iteration of the Mining Charter, following a sharp retreat last week. Analysts said locally listed global miners already functioned as rand hedges, with most of their activities and assets offshore.

Local sentiment rose on a firmer opening on Wall Street with European bourses firming at the start of the Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU. Initial tension has abated following the UK election, and comments by UK Brexit negotiations minister David Davis that both sides should benefit from an agreement.

The Dow was up 0.49% at the JSE’s close. The FTSE 100 had risen 0.96%, the CAC 40 1.24% and the DAX 30 1.21%.

The JSE all share closed 1.54% higher to 51,615 points and the blue-chip top 40 gained 1.95%. Food and drug retailers rose 2.40%, resources 2.02%, industrials 1.93%, platinums 1.01%, financials 0.46% and banks 0.24%. The gold index shed 3.42%, while property was flat.

In large global miners, Glencore gained 3.34% to R47.68 and BHP 2.79% to R194.44.

Sasol rose 1.84% to R369.56. Brent crude was 0.17% higher at $47.35 a barrel at the JSE’s close.

Rand hedge British American Tobacco jumped 3.23% to R919.90.

Bidvest climbed 1.61% to R159.15.

Harmony Gold fell 3.25% to R22.06, Sibanye 2.04% to R15.82 and Gold Fields 1.47% to R44.14.

Anglo American Platinum rose 1.87% to R286.58, while Impala dropped 0.27% to R36.40.

Barclays Africa lost 1.12% to R144.86 with Nedbank adding 0.92% to R209.60 and FirstRand 0.38% to R47.51.

Discovery gained 3.81% to R129.37.

Transaction Capital dropped 2.14% to R14.63. Its SA Taxi division was targeted by striking taxi drivers last week.

Shoprite rose 2.95% to R204.35.

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