Picture: MICHAEL BRATT
Picture: MICHAEL BRATT

The JSE pushed to a four-month high on Tuesday, but eased off the psychologically important 57,000 point level in the afternoon, as the banking index slid.

Banks lost 3% at one point, while general retailers were also under pressure. Eskom warned earlier it may need to intensify load-shedding to avoid a grid collapse.

Rand hedges fared well, however, while diversified miners extended Monday’s gains. Some miners have been boosted by a rising oil price, which earlier climbed above $68 a barrel for the first time in 2019.

The all share gained 0.14% to 56,849.7 points and the top 40 0.17%. Platinums added 1.43% and the resources index 1.31%. Banks slid 2.59%. As the JSE closed platinum was up 1.36% to $846.18/oz and gold 0.3% to $1,307.63. Brent crude was flat at $67.28 a barrel.

Oil has risen on continued pledges of production cuts by Saudi Arabia, while Venezuelan production continues to fall as a political crisis unfolds in that country.

Miners have been, by far, the best performing indices on the JSE so far this year. The platinum index has surged more than 60% in 2019, lifted by a rising palladium price — which is one of platinum’s sister metals.

Glencore rose 1.93% to R60.67 and Anglo American 1.57% to R381.51.

Sasol jumped 3.51% to R451.84.

Sibanye-Stillwater jumped 8.45% to R16.56, amid signs that the strike at its gold operations that began in November last year could be drawing to a close.

Rand hedge AB InBev gained 2.69% to R1,220 and Richemont 2% to R106.24.

Netcare added 0.78% to R25.80. It said earlier that it had completed its disposal of two hospitals for a total consideration of R124m. The disposals form part of an agreement related to its acquisition of Akeso Clinics.

Sasfin Holdings was flat at R37. It said earlier that headline earnings per share (HEPS) rose 58.75% to 250.12c in the six months to end-December. The positive growth was largely a result of an improved credit-loss ratio, with the company also paying lower taxes during the period.

Ascendis slumped 11.56% to R3.98, extending Monday’s 4.66% fall, when it reported that normalised HEPS fell 6% in the six months to end-December.

On Wednesday, all eyes will be on the US Federal Reserve monetary policy statement. A dovish stance from the Fed so far this year has proved supportive for risk assets. Analysts expect, however, that the Fed may lower its growth forecasts for the US economy. Other influential central banks, including the European Central Bank (ECB), have already done this.

There will be some local data to give markets direction on Wednesday as well, with both retail sales data for January and consumer inflation numbers for February on the calendar.

Shortly after the JSE closed, the Dow was up 0.47% to 26,037.09 points, while in Europe the FTSE 100 had gained 0.62%, the CAC 40 0.46% and the DAX 30 1.27%.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za