Picture: SIPHIWE SIBEKO/REUTERS
Picture: SIPHIWE SIBEKO/REUTERS

The JSE was fractionally weaker on Thursday, ending a nine-day winning run, albeit by a narrow margin.

Volumes on the local bourse were lower than average and the rand was volatile, with gains in retailers and banks countered by losses in rand hedges and miners.

The all share fell 0.04% to 57,747.3 points and the top 40 0.17%.

General retailers added 1.36%, food and drug retailers 1.05%, banks 0.94% and financials 0.8%. Platinums dropped 1.46%, gold miners 1.16% and resources 0.73%.

Markets were digesting the US’s federal open market committee’s minutes, released on Wednesday, which were perceived as mildly dovish. Analysts said an interest-rate increase in the US could still be expected in December, but the minutes indicated serious concerns about the outlook for inflation, and thus further increases in 2018.

Fed chairperson Janet Yellen has described the lack of rising inflation as something of a "mystery", said FXTM chief market strategist Hussein Sayed. When an institution that employed more than 300 PhD economists did not know whether low inflation was persistent or transitory, the risk of tightening monetary policy further might be a mistake should inflation not pick up, he said.

Local data was upbeat. Mining production increased by a significant 6.9% year on year in August‚ after increasing by 0.9% year on year in July. Analysts had expected a contraction‚ but this was mainly due to a high base in August last year. The release has raised expectations for SA’s economic performance in the third quarter.

More will be known when retail sales data are released next week, "but the data available so far all support our non-consensus view that SA’s economy stayed strong in the third quarter, and that growth over the course of 2017 will come in at 1.5%", said Capital Economics analysts.

The mining data concludes local data releases for this week‚ while Friday sees the release of US consumer inflation data. The inflation print would be watched closely, and could be expected to give direction to the greenback, analysts said.

Aspen Pharmacare was the best performer among blue-chip companies, adding 4% to R319.19.

Rand-hedge British American Tobacco dropped 1.4% to R864.32 and Richemont 1.08% to R123.74.

Imperial Holdings gained 3.75% to R206.56, and is up 6.04% this week, while Super Group was off 1.07% to R41.56.

Gold Fields lost 2.88% to R54.36 and AngloGold Ashanti 1.17% to R125.66. Trading ex-dividend Harmony added 0.69% to R24.83.

Anglo American Platinum added 1.05% to R354.94 while Impala dropped 3.41% to R30.91.

Sasol lost 0.83% to R389.77.

Nedbank firmed 1.88% to R216.90 and FirstRand 1.27% to R54.38, while Capitec lost 0.22% R925.96.

Sanlam lifted 3.06% to R71.11, MMI 2.06% to R19.31 and Discovery 1.55% to R142.36.

Massmart gained 3.02% to R114.76, Truworths 2.7% to R73.03 and TFG 2.18% to R140.94.

Bidcorp gained 2.21% to R316 and Tiger Brands 1.51% to R394.88. Trading ex-dividend, AVI was up 2.29% to R98.97.

Direct-response retailer Verimark fell 3.53% to 82c, after reporting earlier that sales for the six months to end-August grew 14% to R210m‚ but that after-tax profit plunged 56% to R1.1m.

Taste Holdings dropped 3.23% to 90c, after reporting a 9% drop in interim revenue to R483m for the period to end-August.

Real estate investment trust Equites was up 1.01% to R21.01, after earlier increasing distribution per share by 12.02% for the six months to end-August.

Atlantic Leaf Properties was unchanged at R18.25, after earlier reporting headline earnings per share dropped 1% to 1.1p for the six-months to end-August.

US equity markets opened lower on Wednesday, with the focus on upcoming corporate results. At 5.11pm, the Dow was off 0.06% and the S&P 500 0.09%.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 had added 0.26% while the CAC 40 had lost 0.1%. Germany’s DAX 30 was up 0.1%, another record high.

Platinum added 0.12% to $933.5 an ounce and gold 0.11% to $1,293.

Brent crude had fallen 0.99% to $56.08.

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