A firmer local currency gave the JSE its direction on Thursday, as a jump by retailers and banks offset losses by rand hedges. The banking index surged 4.84%, its biggest one-day rise this year.

The rand was given a boost after statements by three of the world’s most influential central banks on Wednesday and Thursday raised the prospect of prolonged, loose monetary policy.

The rand has surprised analysts with its stability so far this week, but volatility is expected to return to the market as the ANC national elective conference gets under way this weekend.

Although some of the recent rand gains appear to reflect that the markets may be anticipating a more market-friendly outcome from the conference, this was not to say it had been completely priced in, said Novare Actuaries and Consultants economist Tumisho Grater, referring to a victory by ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.

The all share closed 0.87% higher at 57‚845.60 points and the blue-chip top 40 added 0.68%. Banks rose 4.84%‚ general retailers 4.27%‚ platinums 3.86%‚ financials 2.59%, and food and drug retailers 2.1%. The gold index shed 1.53%.

Anglo American gained 1.08% to R253.11.

Sibanye-Stillwater shed 7.08% to R14.97‚ after offering to buy Lonmin in a £285m deal; Lonmin rose 7.2% to R13.40.

Northam Platinum was up 7.4% to R47.17 and Impala Platinum 5% to R30.45.

Standard Bank added 4.79% to R178.35 after it was announced that former Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile has been appointed head of the bank’s South African operations.

FirstRand climbed 4.67% to R56.98 and Barclays Africa 5.5% to R160.05.

Steinhoff International was down 8.98% to R8.92 but Steinhoff Africa Retail gained 6.35% to R16.75.

Mr Price jumped 6.34% to R219.62‚ Massmart 5.66% to R125.01, and Shoprite 3.48% to R223.51.

PPC dropped 8.07% to R5.81‚ after ending merger talks with LafargeHolcim, which was PPC’s last remaining suitor following withdrawals by CRH, Fairfax and Dangote.

Investment holding company PSG Group recovered 4.83% to R250‚ after losing substantial ground in the wake of the Steinhoff debacle.

At 5.40pm, the Dow was up 0.2%, while European markets were lower. The CAC 40 had dropped 0.32% and the FTSE 100 0.24%.

Platinum had lost 0.98% to $880.31 an ounce and gold 0.3% to $1,251.87, while Brent crude was up 0.48% to $62.99 a barrel.

The top-40 Alsi futures index added 0.4% to 51,503 points. The number of contracts traded was 16,705 from Wednesday’s 24,229.

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