Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

The JSE closed weaker on Friday on a sharp pull-back from market favourite Naspers, and as the range-bound rand failed to provide support to banks and financials amid global risk-off sentiment.

Global miners led the resources index down on mixed commodity prices and a choppy Brent crude price. The rand was at R13.4925 to the dollar at the close, from R13.4607, ahead of Moody’s review of SA’s credit rating later on Friday evening. No change is expected.

Global markets have been trading cautiously over the past few days amid concern about a possible conflict between North Korea and the US. US President Donald Trump has threatened to retaliate if North Korea follows through on its promise to attack Guam‚ a Pacific territory where the US has a naval base.

Subdued US consumer inflation data released on Friday reduced the likelihood of further US interest-rate increases this year, supporting the Dow Jones at the JSE’s close. The Dow lifted 0.22% as US treasury yields climbed and the euro gained on the greenback.

"But the uptick in US treasuries was very marginal, so that not much can be read into that," said Sasfin bond analyst Alvin Chawasema. US bond yields have fallen for most of the week as prices rose, with the Dow retreating on Thursday in risk-off trade. "Geopolitical tension between the US and North Korea continues to support safe-haven assets, such as US bonds," Chawasema said.

Commodities were mostly flat on subdued oil prices, with platinum managing to eke out a gain of 0.68% to $988 an ounce in late trade. The gold price was unchanged at $1,286.41 an ounce after recording strong gains earlier in the week.

Local retailers were largely flat ahead of the release of local June retail sales data next week. Retail sales are expected to have grown by an annual 2.5% from 1.7% in May, partially due to a lower statistical base. "Looking ahead, retail sector activity is likely to remain muted this year, in line with modest growth in household consumption expenditure," Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan said.

Naspers fell 4% in early morning trade after the Chinese government announced an investigation into alleged "cyber-security violations" among Chinese internet companies. This affected Tencent, of which Naspers owns about a third, in Hong Kong trade. Tencent was down 5% at one stage, but Naspers pared some losses toward the close as analysts cautioned that the actions would have limited effect and were to be expected ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s congress, scheduled for next month.

Naspers has been the all share’s top performer so far this year, up 40% at one point.

The all share closed 0.98% lower at 55,155.10 points and the blue-chip top 40 lost 1.09%. Resources dropped 1.41%, industrials 0.99%, financials 0.66%, banks 0.58%, platinum 0.55%, property 0.26%, and food and drug retailers 0.17%. The gold index was up 0.69% and general retailers 0.09%.

The all share ended the week 1.41% lower, the first negative weekly close in eight weeks. The all share is up 8.89% for 2017.

Among the big global miners Anglo American dropped 3.04% to R214.81. Glencore shed 2.29% to R56.25 following disappointing interim earnings on Thursday.

Kumba Iron Ore dropped 2.46% to R199 and Arcelor Mittal 4% to R4.80.

Among gold stocks, Harmony rose 3.03% to R24.45 and Sibanye 1.46% to R19.43.

Among banks, Standard Bank dropped 1.17% to R161.50 but Barclays Africa gained 0.11% to R148.22.

Old Mutual ended the day 1.96% lower at R34.44. The group said revenue grew 45% to £10.8bn and its after-tax profit 60% to £679m for the six months to end-June. The interim dividend increased by 32% to 3.53p.

Liberty Holdings closed 1.53% lower at R103.

Steinhoff was 0.69% lower at R67.31 and Shoprite dropped 0.29% to R197.50. Shoprite ended the week 5.51% weaker after Steinhoff earlier unveiled its plan to create a new African retail division, which would include Shoprite. Steinhoff was down 2.21% for the week.

In the property sector, Hammerson lost 0.76% to R98.62 but Intu gained 1.07% to R43.35. Both have exposure in the UK property market.

Naspers lost 2.83% to R2,764.53, ending the week 2.52% lower.

Advanced Health lost 5.22% to R1.09, but Life Healthcare rose 1.69% to R25.85.

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