Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The JSE pushed higher on Thursday, as Brexit turmoil put pressure on markets in Europe, even as investor sentiment towards emerging markets was lifted somewhat.

The all share closed 0.28% higher at 52,146 points and the top 40 up 0.27%. General retailers added 1.24%, food and drug retailers 1.16%, industrials 0.64% and gold miners 2.58%.

Politics took the reins on Thursday, with market focus on the UK, as uncertainty emerged over UK Prime Minister Theresa May's ability to push through a Brexit deal, following the resignation of two cabinet ministers.

This prompted a 2% slide by the pound, putting pressure on local stocks that have a significant presence in the UK.

Hammerson fell 6.01% to R76.95 and Intu Properties 5.83% to R33.91.

Economic data took a backseat to politics, but US retail sales data surprised to the upside, growing 0.8% month on month in October, compared to a consensus forecast of a rise of 0.5%.

The oil price also climbed a little, settling after a 12-day losing streak, but motorists are still expecting a petrol price cut of about R1.50 a litre in December.

The rand was boosted by interest-rate increases in Indonesia and the Philippines, which helped improve sentiment towards emerging markets.

Local data was absent, and the rand only reacted briefly to news that Parliament's constitutional review committee had adopted a report endorsing expropriation of land without compensation.

Rand hedge Richemont lost 3.55% to R93.90, British American Tobacco 2.85% to R517.50, while AB InBev added 3.04% to R1,100.

Investec lost 3.12% to R89.13, after saying earlier that the group grew its overall operating profit 3% to £383m in the six months to end-September. Investec’s UK asset management division reported the fastest growth of 13.8% in operating profit to £56.8m, contributing 15% of the group’s total.

Mediclinic gave up 5.18% to R63.19, having earlier left its dividend for the year to end-September unchanged at 3.2p, reporting that during the period it fell 1% in pound terms, but rose 2% when adjusted for rand depreciation.

Sappi gained 1.49% to R82.25, after reporting earlier that profit for the year to end-September fell to $323m from the prior period's $338m. The paper and pulp producer, however, upped its dividend to 17 US cents from the prior period's 15c.

Shortly after the JSE closed the Dow had fallen 0.47% to 24,961.42 points, while in Europe the FTSE 100 had lost 0.5%, the CAC 40 0.94% and the DAX 30 0.45%.

Platinum had lost 0.43% to $831.71 an ounce and gold 0.17% to $1,1212.98. Brent crude was 1.4% higher at $66.76 a barrel.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za