/ 23 July 2008

Financials, industrials keep JSE firmer

The JSE remained firmer on Wednesday, as banks, financials and industrials found favour following a strong performance on Wall Street overnight.

By 11.55am, the all-share index was 0,58% firmer, lifted by a 3,49% gain in financials, a 3,84% rise in banks and a 1,38% increase in financials.

However, resources fell 0,83% while the gold- and platinum-mining indices gave up 2,85% and 2,19% respectively as prices for the precious metals retreated.

The rand was bid at 7,50 to the dollar, from 7,48 when the JSE closed on Tuesday, while gold was quoted at $933,50 a troy ounce from $958,35 at the JSE’s last close.

Global markets were also firm, with Tokyo’s Nikkei ending up 0,97% and London’s FTSE last up 1,4%. Overnight the Dow closed up 1,18%.

Dow Jones Newswires reports that United States stock futures pointed to a stronger start on Wednesday, as a continued drop in oil prices and increased optimism in the hard-hit financial sector offset a profit warning from Costco Wholesale Corporation as another busy session for earnings awaits.

S&P 500 futures rose seven points to 1 281,20 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 12,75 points to 1 836,75. Dow industrial futures rose 66 points.

“We are seeing rotation on a daily basis — today [Wednesday] the financial and banks are strong after their pullback yesterday. We knew when we came in this morning to see commodity prices had pulled back that this would be the case,” said a local equities trader.

She added that the firm rand was also weighing on resources stocks, but helping banks.

Oil has pulled back sharply and Brent futures were last down $1,78 a barrel, or 2,3%, at $127,25. Gold was down $12,75 an ounce from its overnight level and platinum retreated $28/oz overnight.

On the JSE, among banks and financials, Standard Bank rose R4,14, or 5,29%, to R82,44 and Nedbank climbed R2,55, or 2,61%, to R100,15. Absa added R2,15, or 2,34%, to R94 and FirstRand added 48 cents, or 3,29%, to R15,08.

Specialist banking group Investec, which also trades in London, was also in favour. Investec Limited surged R3,23, or 7,02%, to R49,23 and Investec plc rose R2,96, or 6,33%, to R49,73.

Life insurer Old Mutual rallied 93 cents, or 6,61%, to R15.

Elsewhere, resource giant Anglo American fell R5,01, or 1,18%, to R417,99 but BHP Billiton collected R3, or 1,24%, to R245. It earlier reported that annual production was significantly up in 13 commodities, with records achieved in seven commodities in the year ended June.

Sasol was down R7,70, or 1,9%, to R397,50 on the retreating oil price.

Gold miner AngloGold Ashanti lost R4,09, or 1,58%, to R255,41, Gold Fields fell R3,87, or 4,04%, to R92,03 and Harmony was R3,65, or 4,19%, weaker at R83,50.

Among platinum miners, Anglo Platinum was down R23,50, or 2,4%, at R954,50 and Impala Platinum shed R5,04, or 2,1%, to R233,96.

Pharmaceutical firm Aspen was up R1,60, or 4,32%, at R38,60 after it said it has entered into licensing and supply agreements with leading multinational pharmaceutical corporation GlaxoSmithKline.

Among industrial counters, brewer SABMiller gained R1,50 to R167,90, Richemont climbed 88 cents, or 2%, to R44,58 and Bidvest collected R1,70, or 1,73%, to R99,70.

MTN collected R3,69, or 3,05%, to R124,84. — I-Net Bridge