Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK
Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK

The JSE rose on Wednesday, with gains by miners offsetting losses by banks, as British political chaos pushed investors towards safe-haven assets.

UK MPs defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit agreement for a second time on Tuesday, and are expected to vote later on Wednesday on whether or not to leave the EU without an agreement.

This kept global equity markets under pressure, although higher prices for some commodities offered support to local miners. Gold was at a two-week high as investors shied away from riskier assets.

The all share gained 0.23% to 55,829.1 points and the top 40 0.24%. Gold miners added 2.24% and platinums 1.14%. General retailers lost 2.26% and banks 1.63%.

Shortly after the JSE closed gold was up 0.41% at $1,306.95/oz while platinum had added 1.13% to $844.33. Brent crude was up 0.72% to $67.28 a barrel.

The rise in the oil price came as Saudi Arabia reiterated its pledge to extend its production cuts, while a six-day blackout in Venezuela has prompted a decline in production in the South American country.

Local news was downbeat. A business confidence index, compiled quarterly by Rand Merchant Bank and Stellenbosch University’s Bureau for Economic Research, fell three points to 28 in the first quarter of 2019 — a two-year low.

There was some corporate news to give the local bourse direction, with Growthpoint gaining 0.94% to R24.73, after saying earlier that 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.

Mpact gained 0.55% to R23.63, 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 firmed 1.13% to R3,161.81.

Mr Price slumped 5.03% to R201.96.

Diversified miner Glencore gained 2.37% to R58.34 and BHP 1.79% to R333.03.

Libstar jumped 10.28% to R7.83. It earlier declared a maiden cash dividend of 22c a share for the year to end-December. After-tax profit in 2018 edged up 1% to R236m compared to the same period in 2017.

Sun International rose 3.47% to R57.54 It said earlier it expected its headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the year to end-December to range between 190c and 225c, compared to the prior period's headline loss of 180c.

The Dow was up 0.51% to 25,686.95 points, while in Europe, the FTSE 100 and DAX 30 were flat; the CAC 40 had added 0.44%.

Focus remains 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