JSE stays firm in quiet session

The JSE remained positive by midday on Monday with resources still leading the upside in what a trader said was a “quiet session with not much direction”.

The JSE all-share index had collected 0,41%, led by resources adding 1,40% and platinum counters gaining 1,04%. Gold miners edged up 0,19%.

Banks were flat (down 0,08%) and financials inched up 0,12%, but industrials eased 0,57%.

The rand was last bid at R10,02 to the dollar, from R9,93 when the JSE closed on Friday. Gold was quoted at $841,85 a troy ounce from $834,15/oz at the JSE’s last close, and platinum was at $965/oz from its previous close of $942.50/oz.

“There’s not too much driving the market today. The US is closed for a public holiday and without direction from there, we basically go to sleep,” a local trader said.

“So, we are really just following Friday’s close on Wall Street and also world markets which are holding steady.

“At the moment everyone is just waiting in anticipation for the inauguration [of US President Barack Obama]. But that is all sentimental.

“Fundamentally, we are still not sure what the global economic situation will be. Everyone is hoping that the stimulus packages will lift confidence.

“Locally, we will remain range-bound. Metal prices are holding firmly and we are seeing some buying coming in at the current low levels, particularly in the platinum stocks,” he added.

“Richemont has come off a lot but that is just on the back of the results they reported earlier this morning,” he pointed out.

Dow Jones Newswires reports that London stocks stayed up, slightly coming off earlier gains as banks lose their lustre.

Traders said now that numbers were being crunched, this morning’s euphoria from the government bailout plan was no longer enough to stay confident.

Several analysts say UK banks are still at risk for further material write downs and more capital injections.

The FTSE was last up 1,93%.

Back in Johannesburg, Anglo American added R4, or 1,97%, to R207 and BHP Billiton gained R5,48, or 3,13%, to R180,75.

Petrochemicals giant Sasol was off R6,08, or 2,10%, to R283,92. It was announced earlier that South Africa’s Competition Commission had initiated an investigation into claims of cartel conduct in the piped gas industry.

The competition body said the investigation into the supply and pricing of piped gas was initiated after it received leniency applications from Sasol Gas related to cartel conduct in the supply and pricing of piped gas.

Sasol also said that it expected to complete a competition law compliance review of all its businesses during the first half of 2009.

The review was initiated in July last year, just three months before the company was fined €318,3-million by the European Commission for heading up a paraffin wax cartel and violating antitrust laws.

Highveld Steel rose R2,25, or 3,99%, to R58,65 and Kumba Iron Ore firmed R5,26, or 3,76%, to R145,26, but ArcelorMittal lost R1,70, or 2,07%, to R80,30.

Gold miner Gold Fields eased 23 cents to R81,77 but Harmony added R1,19, or 1,20%, to R100,19.

Platinum miner Anglo Platinum firmed R5,50, or 1,07%, to R518,50, Impala Platinum was up 90 cents to R136,54 and Lonmin jumped R12,74, or 10,17%, to R138.

In diversified miners, African Rainbow gained R2,60, or 2,50%, to R106,62 but Exxaro was off R1,15, or 1,62%, to R69,85.

Elsewhere on the JSE, brewer SABMiller collected R3,07, or 1,94%, to R161,07, Remgro gained 81 cents, or 1,10%, to R74,32 and British American Tobacco firmed R3,63, or 1,37%, to R267,72.

However, Imperial gave up R1,13, or 2,02%, to R54,92 and Famous Brands was off 20 cents, or R1,26%, to R15,70.

Among banks, Nedbank added 73 cents to R97,78 and FirstRand eased six cents to R15,05.

Sugar group Illovo collected 30 cents, or 1,17%, to R26.

Swiss-based luxury goods group Richemont was off 96 cents, or 5,96%, to R15,14. The group earlier reported that total sales for the three months ended December 2008 were down 7% at €1,552-billion from €1,673-billion in the corresponding period in 2007.

Underlying sales decreased by 12% at constant exchange rates.

“Given the current economic climate and the uncertainties facing us, we see no cause for optimism. We must assume that there will be no significant recovery in the foreseeable future and plan accordingly to cope with this situation,” the group added.

Woolies rose 25 cents, or 2,02%, to R12.60 but Truworths lost 69 cents, or 2,01%, to R33,65, Massmart was off R1,35, or 1,64%, to R81,15 and Lewis gave up R1, or 2,18%, to R44,80.

Retailer of building materials and related products Cashbuild was up R1,85, or 3,45%, to R55,50. The group earlier reported that revenue for the second quarter was up by 26% on the same period for the prior financial year.

Construction group Aveng weakened 83 cents, or 2,76%, to R29,26 and Murray & Roberts lost R1,35, or 2,93%, to R44,65.

Cement manufacturer Pretoria Portland Cement was down 43 cents, or 1,48%, to R28,57.

Telecommunications group MTN weakened R1,54, or 1,51%, to R100,40 but Telkom was up 92 cents to R113,92.—I-Net Bridge

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