Picture: BLOOMBERG/MICHAEL NAGLE
Picture: BLOOMBERG/MICHAEL NAGLE

The JSE pushed higher in broad-based gains on Wednesday, while global markets paused a little as investors waited for new catalysts.

With a number of Asian markets closed for the lunar new year, activity has been subdued, while in the US corporate earnings season continues.

Volumes on the local bourse were low, at R11bn, compared to the daily average of R20bn.

The all share gained 0.67% to 54,574.3 points and the top 40 rose 0.67%. Platinums added 2.38% and industrials 0.9%.

Focus on Thursday will be on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address, which may provide further details on how the government plans to rein in expenditure while also stimulating economic growth.

Ramaphosa’s speech comes ahead of the budget statement on February 20, and after this, electioneering could heat up ahead of the national polls, expected in May.

“One could naively argue that elections are political and not financial events, but the reality is that the lead-up to, and the outcome of, the South African elections in May will carry economic significance,” said PPS Investments portfolio manager Luigi Marinus.

Earlier, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) business confidence index came in at 95.1 index points in January, almost unchanged from December’s 95.2.

Sacci noted that although there had been a decline in nine of the index's 13 subindices, “in general the assessment is that the economy and the business climate are better placed for improved performances than the sentimental euphoria of a year ago”.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s trip to Brussels on Thursday may also generate headlines, as she attempts to negotiate further Brexit concessions from the EU.

Shortly after the JSE closed, platinum had fallen 1.12% to $810.34/oz and gold 0.16% to $1,1312.90. Brent crude was 0.56% lower at $61.62 a barrel.

At the same time the Dow was 0.16% lower at 25,371.88 points, while in Europe, the FTSE 100 was flat. The CAC 40 had given up 0.13% and the DAX 30 0.29%.

Sappi fell 5.1% to R75.73, despite reporting earlier that sales in the quarter to end-December rose 28.5% to $81m, compared with the previous period. Net debt in the first quarter of the paper and pulp producer’s financial year rose to $1.55bn from the previous period’s $1.34bn.

Mpact rose 4.78% to R24.99, extending Tuesday's 12.24% gain. It had reported that HEPS for the year to end-December were expected to increase by between 15.5% and 21.6%, compared to the prior period’s 164.5c.

Curro recovered 2.87% to R27.27, having slumped 7.47% on Tuesday. It had said it expected HEPS to rise as much as 27% in the year to end-December.

Gold Fields gave up 1.59% to R49.59, having said earlier that it expected HEPS for the year to end-December to decline as much as 81%, largely as a result of a six-week strike at its South Deep mine.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za