Picture: REUTERS/HENRY NICHOLLS
Picture: REUTERS/HENRY NICHOLLS

After opening 2019 with its biggest one-day loss in more than four months on Wednesday, the JSE recovered slightly on Thursday, even as US markets opened substantially lower.

SA’s main bourse fell as much as 2.79% on Wednesday — the biggest daily decline since August 15 2018 — as global risk sentiment waned on news that China’s manufacturing sector had contracted.

On Thursday, with only a handful of stock exchange news filings, the JSE gained 0.79% to close at 51,669.9 points. The top 40 index added 0.69%, with financials and miners leading the gains.

The gold mining index rallied 3.4%, as AngloGold Ashanti added 4.35% to R190.30, while the platinum index rose 1.89%. The banking index closed 1.57% higher as heavyweight FirstRand climbed 1.97% to R64.61 and Standard Bank 1.63% to R178.50.

Thanks in part to a 0.32% gain in the Brent oil price, to $55.13, Sasol closed 2.74% higher at R428.84.

Investors in the JSE disregarded a heavy sell-off of US stocks, suggesting that Wednesday’s declines were overdone. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 1.56% lower at the time of the JSE’s close, but quickly fell further, down 2.5% just a few minutes later. 

After the JSE’s close, the rand had firmed 0.81% to R14.34 to the dollar, 0.24% against the euro, at R16.36 and 0.71% against the pound to R18.10. The euro gained 0.54% against the dollar to $1.1405.

Local bonds, which weakened on Wednesday, recovered slightly on Thursday, with the benchmark R186 government bond last bid at 8.845% from 8.925% previously.

In 2018, major global stock markets experienced their worst year since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, owing to fears about a broad economic slowdown.

The all share lost 11.4% in 2018, according to Iress data.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za