People walk near the reception at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in Sandton, Johannesburg. Picture: SIPHIWE SIBEKO / REUTERS
People walk near the reception at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in Sandton, Johannesburg. Picture: SIPHIWE SIBEKO / REUTERS

A climb by the gold price above $1,300/oz helped support the JSE a little on Wednesday morning, but the local bourse was flat due to the escalation in uncertainty around Brexit.

There are still no clear signs of how the UK will navigate its departure from the EU, with British MPs shooting down UK Prime Minister Theresa May's draft agreement on Tuesday.

Risk-equities were out of favour as a result. Gold miners were also finding support as gold traded at a two-week high, but banks were under pressure.

The all share had gained 0.04% to 55,723.2 points and the top 40 0.06%.

Banks had fallen 1.12%, while gold miners were up 1.82%.

Gold had risen 0.19% to $1,303.91/oz while platinum was flat at $834.51. Brent crude was 0.18% higher at $66.92 a barrel.

There was some corporate news to give the local bourse direction, with Growthpoint gaining 2.61% to R25.14, after saying earlier distributable income in the six months to end-December grew 5.9%, allowing it to increase its interim dividend 4.5% to 105.8c a share.

Sasol was down 1.53% to R416.61.

Mpact gained 4.04% to R24.45, after reporting 5% revenue growth in the year to end-December compared to the prior comparative period. Operating profit surged 47% to R672m, while the packaging company upped its dividend 27% to 70c per share.

Naspers was up 0.53% to R3,143.09.

Libstar gained 3.52% to R7.35. It earlier declared a maiden cash dividend of 22c a share for the year to end-December. After tax profit in 2018 edged 1% higher to R236m compared to the same period in 2017.

Market focus on Wednesday is squarely on Brexit.

UK MPs are expected to vote later in the day on whether or not back a no-deal Brexit. They could also vote on Thursday to request an extension of the Brexit deadline of March 29, but even if this passes, it needs the unanimous consent of the 27 member governments of the EU.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za