Platinum and resource stocks add support

The JSE was up 0,82% at midday on Tuesday as advances in the platinum and resource sectors added support. However, financial and bank stocks had started to weigh.

By noon, the JSE’s platinum mining index advanced 2,14%, resources gained 1,75% and the gold mining index edged up 0,08%. Industrials improved 0,2%, but banks shed 0,2% and financials pulled back 0,55%.

The rand was bid at 7,81 to the US dollar from 7,86 when the JSE closed on Monday, while gold was quoted at $981,95 a troy ounce, from $988,33/oz at the JSE’s last close. The platinum price was up $45/oz, or 2,02%, at $2 275/oz.

“The JSE is still firm but it did pull back after new vehicle sales data came out. They were quite disappointing, but I don’t think the market was expecting anything better,” said an equities trader.

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) said earlier that South African new vehicle sales fell by 12%, or 6 278 units, year-on-year in February to 46 248 as higher interest rates continue to eat into buyers’ pockets.

“Financial stocks are also going against the grain,” said the trader.

“We have also seen records in the gold and platinum price -‒ even though gold has pulled back, and crude is still north of $100 a barrel, so from a resource perspective, our market is doing quite well,” he said.

“But we are not getting too much enthusiasm coming through, the volumes have been very thin,” he concluded.

By noon on the JSE, resource heavyweight Anglo American had collected R13,07, or 2,59%, to R517, while BHP Billiton climbed R5, or 2%, to R255,20. However, petrochemical group Sasol dipped R1,10 to R406,90.

Platinum miner Anglo Platinum advanced R29, or 2,23%, to R1 329 and Impala Platinum was R7,23, or 2,1% firmer, at R351.

Gold counter AngloGold Ashanti shed 25 cents to R287,75, Gold Fields perked up five cents to R116,30 and Harmony increased R1,05, or 1,02%, to R104,20.

Diversified industrials group Barloworld surged R7, or 7,29%, to R103, while Imperial strengthened R2,24, or 2,83%, to R81,29. Brewer SABMiller was down 40 cents to R161,80 but mobile operator MTN Group improved 52 cents to R121,52.

Among banks, FirstRand lost 34 cents, or 1,89%, to R17,65, after it earlier reported that its diluted headline earnings per share for the six months to December 31, 2007 had increased by 18% to 107,4 cents.

Absa collected R1,06 to R109,05.

Financial services and investment group Sasfin was unchanged at R47. It earlier reported a 16% rise in diluted headline earnings per share from 237 cents to 274 cents for the six months ended December. – I-Net Bridge

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