Picture SUNDAY TIMES/MOEKETSI MOTICOE
Picture SUNDAY TIMES/MOEKETSI MOTICOE

At just above 52,000 this week, the JSE all share index is down 15% since January. How far must it fall before bottoming out? Or is this the bottom?

To answer that, we need to take a longer view.

Consider that the Alsi doubled between end-October 2008 (20,139) and December 2012 (when it touched 40,000) — despite the effects of the global financial crisis. However, in the next four years to December 2016, the rise was only about 9,000 points. This week, it was only about 2,500 points higher than in December 2016.

From the beginning of 2014, for 2½ years the Alsi ranged between 46,000 and 55,000. Though it did touch 60,000 in January, it was soon back and remains in that frustratingly familiar territory.

So this week’s level certainly feels like the bottom. But where to from here?

Well, if we get certainty on the land expropriation issue and the new mining charter, and if President Cyril Ramaphosa wins a strong mandate in next year’s elections, broader economic and investor confidence will strengthen.

Growth will surely follow, though, as always, there may be some stomach-churning political lurches along the way. And bear in mind that the top 10 shares on the JSE by market capitalisation have substantial foreign exposure, and that the biggest (Naspers) contributes 20% of the calculation of the Alsi.

That said, the JSE and the economy have surely been trading at a major political discount for years — so long, in fact, that it may no longer be perceptible. But it is there, and when the discount is cashed in, the rise could be dramatic.

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