Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Interest-rate and rand-sensitive stocks continued to support the JSE on Wednesday, with the local bourse closing about 400 points off its record high.

Resources remained under pressure, with banking stocks and financials gaining, despite rand weakness for much of the day.

The recent strength in the rand has prompted some market commentators to speculate that the Reserve Bank will adopt a slightly more dovish tone on Thursday, when it announces its latest decision on SA’s interest rates.

Upbeat local data supported the retail indices, which extended gains made on Tuesday. Statistics SA said earlier that retail sales in November grew 8.2% compared to the same period in 2016, twice as fast as expected by economists.

Although flattered by Black Friday sales, the figure was further evidence SA’s economic performance had been robust during the period, something that should continue in early 2018, said Capital Economics analysts.

The all share closed 0.45% higher at 60‚924.50 points and the blue-chip top 40 added 0.54%. Food and drug retailers rose 1.82%‚ banks 1.26%‚ general retailers 1.05%‚ industrials 0.59%‚ platinums 0.53%, and financials 0.48%. Property shed 0.77% and the gold index 0.24%.

Anglo American rose 1.4% to R297.05 and Kumba Iron Ore 3.25% to R384.10.

British American Tobacco closed 0.38% lower at R848.79.

Sibanye-Stillwater shed 2.62% to R15.60 and Harmony 1.54% to R21.06.

Standard Bank added 1.61% to a record high R199.15 and FirstRand 1.84% to R64.25. The former hit an intra-day record high of R201.16.

Sanlam gained 2.53% to R87.41.

Steinhoff rocketed 12.29% to R6.58 in volatile trade‚ while Shoprite leapt 4.99% to R230.97‚ Spar 3.84% to R200 and Pick n Pay 3.28% to R69.54.

Property group Nepi Rockcastle was down 1.05% to R188.

MTN jumped 3.99% to R139.53‚ while Naspers firmed 0.32% to R3‚696.30.

The top-40 Alsi futures index closed 0.44% higher to 54‚470 points. The number of contracts traded was 22‚865 from Tuesday’s 12‚382.

At 5.40pm, the Dow was up 0.34%‚ while European markets were weaker; the DAX 30 had fallen 0.55% while the FTSE 100 had lost 0.3%.

At the same time, platinum had gained 0.62% to $1‚005.81 an ounce while gold had lost 0.2% to $1‚335.87. Brent crude was off 0.2% to $69.18 a barrel.