Picture: REUTERS/BRENDAN McDERMID
Picture:  REUTERS/BRENDAN McDERMID

The JSE closed a little lower on Thursday, as gloomy local and international data weighed on sentiment, and shares reacted to a weaker rand.

The resource index eked out some gains, boosted by a rising oil price and favourable exchange rates. But local data was disappointing, with manufacturing production growing an underwhelming 0.3% year-on-year in January, well below Bloomberg’s expected 1.2% growth.

Mining production in January, however, beat market expectations, contracting only 3.3% year-on-year compared with the 3.9% expected by the market. Analysts warned that headwinds, including slowing global growth and load-shedding, will continue.

The local currency broke through R14.50/$, weakening overnight on Wednesday after British MPs rejected a no-deal Brexit. This sent the rand to a four-month low against the pound, which has been boosted by the decreased likelihood that the UK could crash out of the EU without a deal.

Some stocks with interests in the UK benefited as a result, with Hammerson gaining 3.2% to R72.87 and Intu Properties 2.78% to R21.10.

The all share fell 0.07% to 55,789.5 points and the top 40 0.2%. Food and drug retailers lost 1.61%, general retailers 1.38%, industrials 0.45%, and banks 0.21%. Platinums added 2.64%.

Earlier, Chinese data was disappointing, with industrial production falling to a 17-year low in January. US President Donald Trump also said on Wednesday he is “in no rush” to make a trade deal with China, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

All eyes were on Brexit, however, with British MPs expected to vote at about 7pm SA time on whether or not to request an extension of the March 29 deadline.

Shortly after the JSE closed, gold had slipped 1.05% to $1,295.34/oz and platinum 1.93% to $827. Brent crude was down 0.31% to $67.44 a barrel.

The Dow was up 0.14% at 25,665.87 points while in Europe the FTSE 100 and DAX 30 were flat; the CAC 40 had gained 0.58%.

Sasol added 3.13% to R436.75.

Exxaro gained 4.33% to R156.49. It said earlier that revenue rose 12% to R25.5bn in the year to end-December, with the miner reporting record sales, export and production volumes.

MC Mining was flat at R9.50, after saying earlier its headline loss per share for the six months to end-December had narrowed to 2.49c, from the prior matching period’s 69.04c.

RMB Holdings fell 2.25% to R75.91. It said earlier that its headline earnings for the six months to end-December rose 6%, with the company upping its dividend by the same amount to R1.78 per share.

Quantum Foods fell 1.73% to R3.40, after saying it expects headline earnings per share (HEPS) to fall at least 42% in the six months to end-March.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za