Cape Town - The JSE closed weaker on Thursday mainly on the back of a sell-off in Naspers which came under significant pressure following the announcement of a partial disposal of its shareholding in Tencent Holdings.
Local retail sales numbers for the month of February disappointed as they came in lower than forecasted. The year-on-year number was recorded at 3.1% which was below the forecast 5.9%, whilst the month-on-month number contracted by 1.6% which was worse than the forecast -0.1%. Retailers Massmart [JSE:MSM], Shoprite [JSE:SHP] and Woolworths shed 1.12%, 1.63% and 3.58% respectively.
Naspers [JSE:NPN] disclosed that it would be selling 2% of its shareholding in Hong Kong listed, Tencent Holdings which would reduce its stake in the firm to 31.2%. The move is aimed at reinforcing its balance sheet and to accelerate growth. The stock eventually closed at R3 247.61 per share, down 4.59% for the day after having reached a session low of R3 127.22 per share.
Other big moves lower for the day were recorded in Steinhoff [JSE:SNH] which reached a session low of R3.03 per share. The stock eventually closed at R3.11 per share, down 12.96% for the day. British American Tobacco [JSE:BTI] traded under pressure following the announcement by the US based Food and Drag Agency (FDA), that they would step up efforts to reduce tobacco use especially among the youth, by exploring options to address the role of flavours in tobacco products. The stock eventually closed at R637.20 per share, down 4.88% for the day.
Glencore [JSE:GLN] and EOH Holdings [JSE:EOH] also came under significant pressure to end the day 4.15% and 6.65% weaker. Reinet [JSE:RNI] and Fortress B [JSE:FFB] lost 3.87% and 6.64% respectively, whilst banking stocks Standard Bank [JSE:SBK] and First Rand [JSE:FSR] shed 2.59% and 2.56% respectively.
AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG] and Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] were the biggest gainers in the Top-40 Index after they climbed up 2.52% and 2.42% respectively. Tiger Brands [JSE:TBS] and Life Healthcare [JSE:LHC] recorded gains of 0.44% and 0.52% respectively. On the broader All-Share Index, Clicks [JSE:CLS] added 1.35% to close at R182.48 per share, whilst PPC limited [JSE:PPC] and Telkom [JSE:TKG] added 1.69% and 0.95% respectively.
It was a rough day for local equity markets as the JSE All-Share Index eventually closed down 1.83%, whilst the JSE Top-40 Index lost 2.13%. All the major indices took a knock on Thursday with the Industrials Index taking the biggest hit as it lost 2.44%, whilst the Financials and Resources indices lost 1.95% and 0.59% respectively.
The rand strengthened significantly overnight following US dollar weakness which was on the back of the US Fed’s rate hike decision. The US dollar traded softer after the US Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, indicated that the Fed would likely make three rate hikes in 2018 instead of the widely forecast four hikes.
Brent Crude eased from its two-day rally to trade softer on Thursday. The commodity slid to a session low of $68.58/barrel before it rebounded marginally to trade at $68.76/barrel just after the JSE close.
Metal commodities traded softer across the board on Thursday. At 17:00 CAT gold was marginally softer at $1 329.91/Oz, Platinum was trading at $949.67/Oz and palladium was trading at $981.40/Oz.
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