Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The JSE ended the week softer on Friday amid risk-off sentiment sparked by tension on the Korean peninsula. Gold miners firmed while banks gained on a stronger rand, while resources led the declines due to a worse outlook for industrial metals.

Gold miners had been under pressure since Thursday, after the US Federal Reserve signalled it would unwind its balance sheet next month, but were lifted by a spike in geopolitical tension.

The session began inauspiciously after Asian stocks dropped amid renewed hostility between the US and North Korea. Hong Kong stocks fell on Friday amid S&P’s back-to-back downgrades on China and Hong Kong’s ratings, with the agency citing financial risks as it cut the rating from A+ to AA-.

However, initial market losses narrowed amid a wave of suspected late-session buying from state-backed funds, commonly known as the "national team", to help reduce volatility, reported Dow Jones Newswires.

The downgrade, along with heightened rhetoric over North Korea, weighed on the price of industrial metals, said SP Angel analysts.

The all share closed 0.05% lower at 55‚839.70 points and the blue-chip top 40 gained 0.03%. Platinums lost 0.43%‚ food and drug retailers 0.34%‚ resources 0.32%, and industrials 0.07%.

The gold index added 1.28%‚ banks 0.65%‚ financials 0.23%, and general retailers 0.16%.

Despite closing lower in the past four days‚ the all share ended the week 0.35% higher on Monday’s upbeat performance; it has gained 10.24% for the year.

Anglo American ended the day 0.79% lower at R237.11.

British American Tobacco rose 0.56% to R823.42.

Among gold stocks, Harmony rose 2.43% to R24.42.

Lonmin gained 4.06% to R12.82.

Standard Bank added 1.41% to at R162.65‚ Barclays Africa 0.79% to R139.59 and Nedbank 0.54% to R204.47.

Discovery closed 1.39% off at R142.22.

Brait ended the day 2.68% lower at R53.40 and has lost 39% so far this year‚ after having relinquished 47.5% in 2016.

Naspers shed 0.78% to R2‚962.

Spur lost 3.23% to R30.

Sappi added 2.11% to R88.01.

At 5.40pm, the Dow was off 0.12%. The FTSE 100 had added 0.67% while the CAC 40 had gained 0.3% and the DAX 30 0.01%.

At the same time gold was up 0.34% at $1,295.42 an ounce while platinum was off 0.25% at $935.96.

The top-40 Alsi futures index lost 0.38% to 50,261 points. The number of contracts traded was 28‚805 from Thursday’s 8,588. The index added 1.96% for the week.

With Maarten Mittner

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