/ 25 February 2008

Positive world markets buoy JSE

Firmer world markets helped keep the JSE in the black by midday on Monday, offsetting losses in the gold-mining index that were sparked by negative news from Gold Fields.

Gold Fields’s share price weakened R2,81, or 2,43%, to R112,75 after it earlier reported that the current electricity crisis puts 6 900 Gold Fields jobs at risk.

It also said that gold production for the current quarter is forecast to decline by between 20% and 25% against the December quarter as a result of the total suspension of production for one full week due to power constraints, continued power rationing and the seasonal impact of the Christmas break.

By noon, the JSE’s broader all-share index was a mere 0,25% in the black. Banks advanced 2,79% and financials lifted 1,62%. The platinum-mining index gained 1,75%, but resources pulled back 0,36% and the gold-mining index was off 1,31%. Industrials were up 0,59%.

The rand was bid at 7,66 to the United States dollar from 7,70 when the JSE closed on Friday, while gold was quoted at $949,42 a troy ounce from $942,95/oz at the JSE’s last close.

The United Kingdom’s FTSE 100 lifted 1,98%, Asia’s Hang Seng eased 0,15% and the Nikkei strengthened 3,07%.

“It’s quiet on the JSE with very thin volumes traded. It is firm after it took a lead from stronger Asian markets, but negative commentary has come through from Gold Fields about lower production forecasts and the risk of losing jobs, which has been weighing down on the gold-mining index. But overall, the underlying sentiment is still good,” said a local equities trader.

In the JSE’s resources sector, BHP Billiton lost R5,44, or 2,19%, to R242,81, Anglo American was off R1,08 to R486,50 but Sasol perked up R2,53 to R406,43.

Gold miner AngloGold Ashanti dipped R4, or 1,43%, to R276,50 and Harmony inched up 83 cents to R94,83.

Platinum counter Anglo Platinum improved R7,96 to R1 278,11 and Impala Platinum was R8,65, or 2,7% higher, at R328,90.

Brewer SABMiller shed 26 cents to R162,75, luxury goods group Richemont collected 62 cents, or 1,42%, to R44,20 and sugar producer Tongaat-Hulett added 25 cents to R79,50.

Media group Avusa’s share price fell R1,99, or 4,33%, to R44,01. It said earlier that shareholders have approved the listing and unbundling of its media assets to a new entity, Opco, which will be renamed Avusa Limited and be listed on the JSE’s consumer services — publishing sector on March 31.

Avusa, the group, will be renamed ElementOne with effect from Monday March 31 2008.

Among banks, Absa rose R2,60, or 2,39%, to R111,30, Standard Bank slipped 66 cents to R93,84 and Nedbank was R1,84, or 1,6% better, at R117,14.

Mobile operator MTN Group climbed R1,64, or 1,4%, to R118,94, while fixed-line operator Telkom was up R2,05, or 1,58%, to R132,15. — I-Net Bridge