The JSE took a fair knock on Thursday amid continued concerns about Spanish bond yields and Sunday’s elections in Greece‚ with the platinum index the only gainer‚ despite profit taking after yesterday’s rally in the sector.
“There was general weakness in the market today in anticipation of the elections in Greece on Sunday‚” said Drikus Combrinck‚ portfolio manager at PSG Konsult.
At 17:00 local time‚ the JSE all-share index was down 0.62 percent to 33‚826.01 points‚ with resources shedding 0.76 percent and gold counters dipping 1.55 percent. Platinum shares gained 0.34 percent.
Financials were down 0.44 percent‚ banking stocks dropped 0.94 percent and industrials gave up 0.60 percent.
The rand was at 8.42 to the US dollar‚ from 8.38 the JSE's close on Wednesday‚ while gold was at US$1‚617.41 a troy ounce from US$1‚621.47/oz at the JSE's previous close and platinum was quoted at $1‚468.50/oz‚ from $1‚468.50/oz in the previous session.
The Dow Jones Newswires reported that US stocks rose as an unexpected increase in initial claims for unemployment benefits prompted speculation the Federal Reserve would announce further economic-stimulus efforts‚ offsetting concerns about Spanish bond yields rising to a euro-era high.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 75 points‚ or 0.6 percent‚ to 12‚571. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index advanced seven points‚ or 0.5 percent‚ to 1‚321‚ led higher by consumer-staples shares. The technology sector lagged behind and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose eight points‚ or 0.3 percent‚ to 2‚826.
“The only reason you could possibly be trading higher‚ based off of the morning economic data‚ is the odds of further stimulus‚” said Dan Greenhaus‚ chief global strategist at New York brokerage BTIG LLC. "There's nothing in the morning data that's 'good'."
The number of Americans filing for jobless claims rose to a seasonally adjusted 386‚000‚ the Labor Department said‚ higher than the 377‚000 forecast by economists in a Dow Jones Newswires poll. The prior week's figure was revised higher.
Meanwhile‚ US consumer prices fell in May‚ in line with expectations‚ as plunging fuel costs offset higher rents and medical-care prices.
European markets were mostly lower as the increase in Spanish bond yields outweighed reassuring news of reasonable demand at an auction of Italian government bonds.
The yield on Spain's benchmark 10-year bond rose to 6.96 percent before pulling back slightly. Moody's Investors Service downgraded Spain's debt three notches late Wednesday to Baa3‚ the brink of junk territory. That increased speculation that Spain is likely to have to seek an international bailout‚ in addition to the aid for banks its government is seeking.
Meanwhile Greek stocks ended the day a whopping 10 percent higher‚ boosted by strong gains in the banking counters amid soaring hopes of a “pro-bailout” win in Sunday's Greek elections. Among Greece’s lenders‚ Alpha Bank ended the session 30 percent higher‚ National Bank 26 percent ahead and EFG Eurobank and Piraeus Bank both up 25 percent.
On the JSE‚ Anglo American (AGL) was down R2.78‚ or 1 percent‚ to R274.22‚ BHP Billiton (BIL) lost R2.65‚ or 1.13 percent‚ to R231.65‚ while Sasol (SOL) added R2.00‚ or 0.55 percent‚ to R363.00.
AngloGold Ashanti(ANG) was down R4.52‚ or 1.47 percent‚ to R303.47‚ Gold Fields (GFI) lost R1.93‚ or 1.69 percent‚ to R112.00 and Harmony Gold Mining (HAR) was off R1.46‚ or 1.66 percent‚ at R86.45.
In platinum stocks‚ Impala Platinum (IMP) was up R1.31 to R143.00‚ while Northam Platinum (NHM) shed 72 cents‚ or 2.63 percent‚ to R26.63 and Lonmin (LON) was down R 1.61‚ or 1.70 percent to R93.26.
Other miners took a beating with Exxaro (EXX) down R4.23‚ or 2.04 percent‚ to R202.65‚ African Rainbow (ARI) shed R3.74‚ or 2.15 percent to R170‚26 and Kumba Iron Ore (KIO) was off R11.92‚ or 2.12 percent‚ to R550.58.
Coal of Africa (CZA)‚ however‚ jumped 45 cents‚ or 9.22 percent‚ to R5.33‚ continuing its good run from yesterday when the company announced a substantial increase in its gross resources.
In industrials AECI (AFE) gave up R2‚ or 2.47 percent‚ to R79‚ Richemont (CFR) was down 53 cents‚ or 1.14 percent to R45.94 and Remgro (REM) dropped R1.88‚ or 1.38 percent‚ to R134.61.
In telecoms Telkom (TKG) lost 40 cents‚ or 1.99 percent to R19.72.
In the banking sector Standard Bank (SBK) gave up R1.91‚ or 1.65 percent‚ to R113.70‚ African Bank (ABL) was off R40 cents‚ or 1.11 percent‚ to R35.76‚ Investec LTD (INL) dropped 53 cents‚ or 1.15 percent‚ to R45.68 and Capitec (CPI) was down R4.90‚ or 2.21 percent‚ to R217.10.
MMI Holdings lost 26 cents‚ or 1.50 percent‚ to R17.13.
In construction WBH Ovcon (WBO) lost R2.19‚ or 1.61 percent‚ to R134‚ PPC (PPC) gave back 59 cents‚ or 2.14 percent‚ to R27.01.
Pick n Pay (PIK) fared worst in the retail sector with a loss of R1‚ or 2.27 percent‚ to R42.99 and Spar (SPP) was off R1.65‚ or 1.45 percent‚ to R112.35.