Johannesburg - The JSE closed the Wednesday session lower with resurgent European risk and US fiscal concerns weighing on the bourse and world markets. Banks and financials were the only indices closing in the black after a positive re-rating of FirstRand and Rand Merchant Bank that caused these counters to add value and push the banking index higher.
“Platinums were up in the morning‚ but turned around at midday after retail sales in the US came in lower than expected‚ which led to a risk-off rally and the rand weakened to R8.87 from R8.78 on Tuesday to the greenback due to this risk-off environment‚” Martin Strauss‚ equity dealer at PSG Konsult in Pretoria said.
“The banking sector gained after the re-rating of FirstRand and Rand Merchant Bank; Standard Bank and Absa were down‚” he said.
At 17:00‚ the JSE All Share [JSE:J203] index closed 0.41% lower at 37 241.79 points‚ with the Top 40 - (Tradeable) [JSE:J200] index also shedding 0.41% to 33 042.71. Banks and financials closed 0.14% and 0.10% higher respectively‚ while gold miners were the biggest losers shedding 2.81%.
Leading European shares were generally in negative territory in late trade‚ with London’s FSTE 100 shedding 0.64% by 16:52pm, after downbeat economic data from the eurozone and the UK. Eurozone industrial production for September fell 2.5%‚ the largest monthly decline since January 2009 and the Bank of England said inflation rose to an annual 2.7% in October‚ well above the target rate of 2%‚ prompting the central bank to freeze its bond-buying stimulus programme in November.
Another international issue causing investor uncertainty is the final decision on the disbursement of the next aid tranche to Greece being postponed until a meeting of eurozone finance ministers next Tuesday.
Meanwhile talks between the US administration and Congress surrounding the fiscal cliff get underway later this week.
“While our base case remains that a compromise will be reached eventually‚ the risk of temporarily going over the fiscal cliff in the interim will be negative for risky assets‚ in our view‚” Barclays said in a global macro daily report.
Meanwhile US stocks inched higher on Wednesday‚ one day after falling to a three-month low‚ as encouraging earnings from Cisco Systems lifted technology shares‚ Dow Jones Newswires reported.
At 16:52 the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat (0.06%) at 12 763.39 points.