SA stocks drop from early 2018 high as Naspers slips

South Africa’s main stock index fell 0.5% as of 9:46 a.m. in Johannesburg, retreating from the highest close since January 2018, as fresh US-China tensions and protracted wrangling over a stimulus package in Washington weighed on sentiment toward riskier assets.

The benchmark gauge remains on track to advance for the third week in four after climbing beyond the 60 000 point level for the first time since August 2018 on Thursday.

The US is preparing to blacklist Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. and dozens of other Chinese companies, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, a bipartisan US stimulus deal “appears to be close at hand,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, but will probably require work over the weekend to get through Congress.

Tech investor and local benchmark giant Naspers dropped 2.2% to drag the overall market lower. Unit Prosus NV, which holds Naspers’ 31% stake in Tencent Holdings, dropped 1.4% after the Chinese internet behemoth slipped in Hong Kong trading. Luxury global retailer Richemont also weighed on the Johannesburg index, sliding 0.8%.

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. dropped 1.4%, even as it said it expects to meet cost and production targets for this year.

Bank stocks bucked the negative mood, extending their rally to a fifth day, the longest winning streak since October. FirstRand Ltd. climbed 1.3%, Capitec Bank Holdings Ltd. rose 1.2% and Standard Bank Group Ltd. was up 0.5%.

Foreigners were net buyers of R3.6 billion of South African shares on Thursday, according to exchange operator JSE Ltd. That’s the most since September 2019 and the ninth consecutive day of inflows, the longest such streak since a 13-day run in February 2018.

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