JSE. Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK
JSE. Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK

The JSE closed firmer on Wednesday on a sterling performance from Naspers, while platinum and gold stocks dropped on weaker metal prices and a stronger rand.

Brent crude was largely unchanged at $78 a barrel.

US stocks struggled for direction with fresh worries over North Korea appearing to weigh on sentiment, Dow Jones Newswires reported. Pyongyang had signaled its leader, Kim Jong-un, might pull out of next month’s summit with US President Donald Trump if the US insists on de-nuclearisation for the isolated nation.

The equity market has scored significant gains so far this month, but suffered a sizable drop on Tuesday as the Dow halted an eight-session winning streak, the newswire said. Despite this, the stock market seemed to have turned a corner this month, overcoming some concerns about inflation, rising interest rates, trade fights and geopolitical tension.

The all share closed 1.26% higher at 58,621.80 points and the top 40 added 1.51%. Industrials rose 2.02%, banks 1.55%, resources and general retailers both 0.77%, and food and drug retailers 0.69%. The gold index shed 2.35%, platinum 2.06% and property 0.43%.

Naspers rocketed more than 6% at one stage, even though Tencent closed a little lower on the Hang Seng, ahead of the release of its results. Naspers owns 31.2% of Tencent, and the latter remains the main component of Naspers’s market cap. It accounts for about 80% of Naspers’s overall profits.

Sibanye-Stillwater shed 2.48% to R8.66. Anglo American Platinum dropped 1.49% to R360 and Lonmin 3.4% to R8.25. Nepi Rockcastle lost 2.75% to R126.76.

Mondi Plc rose 1.69% to R346. Wednesday’s trading update did not provide earnings guidance, but said its underlying operating profit for the three months to end-March grew 15% to €295m from the previous comparable period.

Aspen Healthcare jumped 4.54% to R265.

In an unusual move, the rand firmed along with dollar, and was at R12.4433 from R12.5662 soon after the JSE’s close. The euro was at $1.1786 from $1.1838, the best intra-day performance by the greenback against the bloc’s currency so far this year.

Local bonds edged firmer, with the R186 bid at 8.46% from 8.475%. The US 10-year treasury was at 3.0862% from 3.0751%.

On Tuesday, Treasury successfully placed $2bn worth of notes in international markets, maturing in 2030 and 2048. The transaction was more than 1.7 times over-subscribed in aggregate.

The top 40 Alsi futures index rose 1.42% to 52,450 points. The number of contracts traded was 25,127 from Tuesday’s 21,930.

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