Picture: MICHAEL BRATT
Picture: MICHAEL BRATT

The JSE pushed higher on Wednesday, with much of the gains due to Naspers, amid a lack of major catalysts on the day.

There were few attention-grabbing headlines or economic releases, although investors continue to eye ongoing US-China trade negotiations.

Local news was disappointing. The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) business confidence index (BCI) declined in February to 93.4 points, 1.7 points lower than in January, and 5.5 points below February 2018’s number.

Global news was also downbeat. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) earlier downgraded its global forecast for 2019 growth to 3.3% from 3.5% previously.

The all share gained 0.46% to 56,073.9 points and the top 40 0.58%. Gold miners added 1.28% and industrials 0.72%. Banks fell 0.43% and food and drug retailers 0.60%.

Naspers gained 1.91% to R3,215.34 and British American Tobacco 5.39% to R565.

Grindrod added 1.31% to R8.50. It said earlier that net profit for the year to end-December 2018 rose 21% to R875m, as revenues, including from joint ventures, grew 16% to R24.7bn.

Resilient slipped 4.89% to R59.50, erasing Tuesday’s 3.58% gain. The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) is no longer probing the company’s directors about insider trading.

Stadio leapt another 5.14% to R3.89, pushing gains for the week to 16.82%. It said on Monday that revenue for the year to end-December jumped five-fold to R632m from the same period in 2017.

MTN fell 1.55% to R76.06, ahead of its results for the year to end-December, due on Thursday. The company said in February that it expects headline earnings per share (HEPS) to be in a range of 328c and 346c for the period, an increase of between 80% and 90%.

Sasfin Holdings jumped 9.41% to R35. It said earlier that it expected HEPS to rise as much as 61.7% in the six months to end-December from the matching period in 2017.

Vestact CEO Paul Theron said on Wednesday that Iran’s economic problems presented another risk to MTN, which has 44.6-million subscribers in that market via its 49%-held venture, MTN Irancell. Iran is facing sanctions due to its nuclear programme, with Theron saying this could make repatriating profits from that country difficult.

In addition to all this, there have been allegations that there were irregularities in the initial granting of the cellular licence to MTN Irancell, at the expense of Turkcell, and litigation is ongoing.

Shortly after the JSE closed, the Dow was flat at 25,811.41 points, despite somewhat positive private-sector jobs numbers earlier. In Europe, the FTSE 100 had added 0.24%, while the CAC 40 and DAX 30 were flat.

Gold was down 0.16% at $1,285.77/oz and platinum down 0.99% at $829.82. Brent crude was 0.18% lower at $65.52 a barrel.

The rand was down 0.48% to R14.2301/$, while the benchmark R186 government bond was three basis points weaker at 8.68%.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za