Positive US jobs data lifts stocks

The JSE closed firmer on Friday as it tracked other global markets higher which rose on the back of upbeat US jobs data.

US jobs data for the month of April topped estimates as the US economy added 263 000 jobs compared to the forecasted 181 000 jobs. The unemployment rate also fell to 3.6% from a prior recording of 3.8%, while average hourly earnings increased by a modest 0.2%. European counters inched higher while US markets managed to open firmer as a result.

The strong jobs report resulted in some weakness for the US dollar as market participants found an appetite for riskier assets such as precious metals. This resulted in the rand advancing from its session lows to a session high of R14.37/$. At 17:00 CAT the local currency was trading 0.94% firmer at R14.37/$.

On the local bourse, significant gains were recorded for Nampak [JSE:NPK] which managed to gain 5.47% to close at R11.18, while Ascendis Health [JSE:ASC] also to have a run of its own as it climbed 12.22% to close at R5.05.

Miners rebounded following the weakness that was recorded in the prior session. Northam Platinum [JSE:NHM] advanced 5.63% as it closed at R60.00, Exxaro Resources [JSE:EXX] added 3.21% to close at R164.50, and Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] gained 3.1% to close at R443.34.

Sugar producer Tongaat Hulett [JSE:TON] firmed 4.58% to close at R22.14, while Imperial Logistics [JSE:IPL] gained 3.14% to R64.36. EOH Holdings [JSE:EOH] had another volatile session which saw it rise as much as R25.99 before it closed 4.43% higher at R25.00.
Intu Properties [JSE:ITU] came under significant pressure following the release of a weaker trading statement. The stock lost 6.05% to close at R17.85. Rebosis Property Fund [JSE:REB] fell 3.1% to R1.25, while Hammerson PLC [JSE:HMN] dropped 2.61% to R58.50.

MMI Holdings [JSE:MMI] weakened by 1.3% to end the day at R18.25, while Discovery [JSE:DSY] dropped 0.99% to close at R147.50. Rand hedge Richemont [JSE:CFR] lost 0.5% to close at R104.77, while PSG Group [JSE:PSG] closed at R265.02 after dropping 0.85%.
The blue-chip JSE Top-40 index eventually closed 1.02% firmer while the broader JSE All-share index added 1.01%. All the major indices managed to close firmer on the day. Industrials added 0.85%, Financials gained 1.14% while the Resources index rose 1.35%.

At 17:00 CAT, Gold was 0.78% firmer at $1 280.55/Oz, Platinum added 1.58% to $864.50/Oz, and Palladium had gained 1.5% to trade at $1 376.65/Oz.
Gains in brent crude were fairly modest on the day. The commodity was trading 0.66% firmer at $71.25/barrel just after the JSE close.


* Musa Makoni is a trading specialist at Purple Group.

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