The JSE opened marginally softer on Wednesday but sunk deeper into losses as European counters traded under pressure.
The outlook was rather mixed for global markets in today's session as the Nikkei managed to advance 2.13% while the Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.17% and 0.47% respectively.
Stocks in Europe fell on the back of concerns that the bloc was not moving fast enough to inject monetary stimulus to counter the impact of the pandemic. In the US equity futures traded softer earlier on, but they managed to turn green on the back of a wave of optimism that there would be more stimulus injected into the economy.
Locally, there was some disappointment in terms of economic data following the release of the SACCI business confidence data for March. The index fell to 89.9 from a prior level of 92.7. The rand was not affected by this as it continued to strengthen primarily on the back of US dollar weakness. The local unit was trading 0.57% firmer at R18.19/$ at 17:00.
On the local bourse, Telkom [JSE:TKG] was one of the day's biggest losers after it fell 12.51% to close at R18.46, while industry peer MTN Group [JSE:MTN] also struggled as it dropped 7.65% to close at R47.45.
Financials came under pressure despite the firmer rand. Declines were recorded for Standard Bank [JSE:SBK] which lost 6.96% to close at R106.18, FirstRand [JSE:FSR] which fell 4.99% to close at R37.70, and Momentum Metropolitan Holdings [JSE:MTM] which closed at R15.41 after losing 4.76%.
Anglo American Platinum [JSE:AMS] was one of the biggest losers amongst the miners as it tumbled 7.51% to close at R833.61, while Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] closed at R328.24 after dropping 5.26%. Sasol [JSE:SOL] had another volatile session which saw the share trade as high as R83.97, as low as R51.50 before it settled 3.76% lower at R68.91.
Tsogo Sun Hotels [JSE:TGO] recorded one of the day's biggest percentage point gains as it surged 45.59% to close at R1.98 while Grindrod [JSE:GND] gained 11.9% to close at R3.48.
Some listed property stocks managed to record decent gains on the day as advances were recorded for Hospitality Property Fund [JSE:HPB] which climbed 10.11% to close at R4.90, Investec Property Fund [JSE:IPF] which added 8.89% to close at R7.84, and Fortress REIT which closed at R10.83 after adding 3.34%.
Significant gains on the day were also recorded for Mondi [JSE:MNP] which gained 2.36% to close at R301.00, and Bid Corporation [JSE:BID] which closed 1.32% higher at R243.17.
The JSE All-Share index eventually closed 1.7% weaker while the JSE Top-40 index lost 1.88%. The financials index was the biggest casualty as it fell 3.81%, while the industrials and resources indices lost 1.03% and 1.97% respectively.
Brent crude was mildly weaker as it was recorded trading 0.28% weaker at $31.77/barrel just after the JSE close.
At 17:00, palladium was up 0.57% at $2194.13/Oz, gold was 0.17% firmer at $1649.95/Oz, while platinum had shed 0.44% to trade at $736.61/Oz.
*Musa Makoni is a trading specialist at Purple Group.