The JSE closed higher on Wednesday, as markets reacted favourably to the government’s promise to protect the integrity of public finances. Despite a generally stronger greenback, the rand gained on news that inflation decelerated in January, while the government announced that it would steadily reduce the budget deficit over the next three years. After trading flat at midday, the local bourse climbed 1.17% to close at 58,606 points, while the top 40 gained 1.39%. Food and drug retailers rose 3.53%, banks 2.39% and industrials 1.66%. Gold miners lost 0.48% and resources 0.28%. The budget, delivered by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba in Parliament in Wednesday, along with recent positive political developments, would help avoid further credit-ratings downgrades, Absa Asset Consulting acting head Kwaku Koranteng said. Earlier, inflation‚ measured by the annual change in the consumer price index (CPI)‚ slowed to 4.4% in January from 4.7% in December. This beat a Trading Economics consens...

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