The JSE had a poor start to 2018 as global risk sentiment tumbled following news that China’s manufacturing sector contracted in December for the first time in 19 months.

Gold miners were the only major index to record gains, affirming the risk-off sentiment.

The all share ended Wednesday 2.79% lower at 51,264.1 points and the top 40 shed 3.03%, as investors bailed out of stocks such as BHP, Anglo American and Mondi plc. The gold index added 1.59%. 

In 2018, global equity benchmarks experienced their worst year since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, as investors fretted about the risk of a slowing global economy.

The all share lost 11.4% in 2018, according to Iress data. Only the top end of the resources market fared better among blue-chip stocks in the past year.

By the market’s close, BHP had lost 3.66% to R292.66, after gaining 21% in 2018. Anglo American was down 4.69% to R307.17 after a 26% rise last year. Mondi plc had slipped 2.08% to R297.76.

Sasol was down 1.79% to R417.40, despite oil prices staging a bit of a comeback in late trade. At 5.46pm, Brent crude had added 2.56% to $55.53 a barrel.

Naspers tumbled 3.71% to R2,785.01, tracking losses in Chinese technology company Tencent, in which it has an approximately 31% interest.

After beginning the day a little firmer, the rand was little changed by the JSE’s close at R14.42 to the dollar. It firmed, however, to the euro by 0.82% to R16.36; and 0.97% to the pound at R18.18. The euro weakened 0.99% against the dollar to $1.1351.

Local bonds felt the effects of the risk aversion, with the benchmark R186 government bond last bid at 8.935% from 8.875% previously.