Picture: MICHAEL BRATT
Picture: MICHAEL BRATT

The JSE closed lower on Friday, amid some gloominess around global economic growth.

Local news also provided some eye-catching activity on the day.

Aspen Pharmacare plummeted 28.69% to R100.66. It said after markets had closed on Thursday that normalised headline earnings per share (HEPS) had fallen 6% in the six months to end-December compared to the prior period. This calculation took into account new reporting standards that required restating the prior years results.

Tongaat Hulett fell 28.34% to R22. It said earlier it had discovered practices that might require it to restate previous financial results. The embattled sugar producer lost 44.42% in February, as the market digested the implications of its high debt levels.

The all share fell 0.66% to 55,488.8 points and the top 40 lost 0.87%. Industrials lost 0.99% and the resources index 1.17%. Gold miners gained 3.08%, general retailers 1.48%, platinums 1.13% and banks 0.75%.

The all share lost 1.27% for the week, but has added 5.22% so far in 2019.

International economic news was downbeat. US nonfarm payrolls data came in well below expectations, with employers adding just 20,000 jobs in February, while the market had expected 180,000. This is, however, the 101st straight months of jobs growth in the world’s largest economy.

Chinese exports dropped 20.7% in February month on month, surprising the market, which according to macroeconomics website Trading Economics had expected a 4.8% fall.

The downbeat data comes a day after the European Central Bank (ECB) lowered its growth forecasts for the eurozone, with its promises of new stimulus measures putting pressure on the rand and the euro.

Locally, both President Cyril Ramaphosa’s reiteration of the ANC’s plans to nationalise the Reserve Bank, as well as news of electricity tariff increases that are well above inflation, also served as headwinds for the local currency, analysts said.

MMI added 0.64% to R15.70, having earlier reported that diluted normalised HEPS rose 6% to 105.3c in the six months to end-December.

Naspers fell 1.87% to R3,071.59.

Sasol gave up 2.42% to R422.03 and diversified miner Glencore 3.35% to R55.40.

Focus next week will be on Brexit. British MPs are set to vote on whether to approve Prime Minister Theresa May’s revised Brexit deal on Tuesday. May has already indicated that should MPs opt not to back her deal, she would probably request an extension of the March 29 deadline.

Shortly after the JSE closed the Dow was down 0.56% to 25,330.43 points, while in Europe, the FTSE 100 had given up 0.89%, the CAC 40 0.71% and the DAX 30 0.69%.

Gold was up 0.87% to $1,296.45/oz, while platinum was flat at $816.56. Brent crude was 2.82% lower at $64.20 a barrel, with the latter falling sharply after the release of the US jobs numbers.

The rand had firmed 0.52% to R14.43/$, while local bonds were little changed.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za