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Stock trader

The JSE followed global stock indices higher on Friday as risk-on sentiment returned to markets, thanks to positive data releases in the US and optimism that trade tension is easing.

SA’s main bourse, which opened 2019 with a 2.79% decline on  Wednesday, moved closer to being level for the new year. The JSE clawed back another 1.03% on Friday following Thursday’s 0.79% gain.

Shortly after the JSE’s close on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 2.18% higher, and the S&P 500 index 2.1%, thanks to healthy hiring and wage-growth numbers in the US.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index closed 2.24% higher on improved data for China’s services sector and renewed optimism that the world’s two largest economies will resolve their trade dispute.

The JSE’s top 40 index added 1.17% on Friday as all major indices climbed higher, bar the gold mining index, which shed 2.62% after rallying 3.4% on Thursday.

The industrials index rose 1.55%, with Bidvest lifting 1.79% to R205 and Imperial Logistics 1.56% to R69.51.

In the retail sector, Mr Price gained 2.22% to R244, TFG 3.35% to R166.70, and Truworths 4.33% to R88.92.

Brent crude climbed 3.91% to $57.84.

The rand, meanwhile, extended earlier gains after the JSE’s close as US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said the central bank would be “patient” with its monetary policy in a discussion, which includes two of his predecessors, in Atlanta.

The rand reached R13.95 to the dollar — its best level since December 7 2018 — before moving to R14.02 by 5.43pm, a 1.93% improvement on the day.

“Events in the US will remain a determining factor for the rand, contributing to the ongoing capriciousness of the local exchange rate,” Investec chief economist Annabel Bishop said in a note.

Local bonds tracked the rand’s gains, with the benchmark R186 government bond last bid at 8.79% from 8.84% previously.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za