JSE firm, buoyed by gold stocks
Johannesburg - The JSE ended the day and week on a firmer footing on Thursday, buoyed mainly by gold stocks, amid positive global investor sentiment.
SA markets are closed on Friday for the Freedom Day public holiday, and again on Tuesday for Workers' Day.
At 17:00 local time, the JSE All Share [JSE:J203] index was up 0.65% to 34 251.43 points, with gold stocks rallying 3.50%, platinum shares lifted 0.92% and resources picked up 1.11%.
Financials added 0.81%, banking stocks rose 1.30% and industrials edged up 0.24%.
The rand was trading at 7.78 to the US dollar, unchanged from the JSE's close on Wednesday. Gold was quoted at $1 656.50 a troy ounce from at $1 637.99/oz at the JSE's previous close, while platinum was at $1 560.20/oz, from $1 550.20/oz at the previous session.
"The solid performance of gold shares was the main feature in our market as they recovered from their recent lows," said Malcolm Moller, a trader at Vunani Private Clients.
Nick Kunze, head of dealing at BJM Private Clients Services, said: "Market participants interpreted the US Fed Chairman's commentary to mean possible additional quantitative easing, or QE3, which means dollar weakness, which is positive for gold shares. The rally in gold counters could also be ascribed to bargain hunting, given that they have been under pressure over the last while."
US stocks edged higher on Thursday as pending sales of previously owned homes rose more than expected, and investors shrugged off weak data on the job market and confidence in Europe, Dow Jones Newswires reported.
The number of US home buyers who signed contracts to purchase previously owned homes rose sharply more than expected in March to the highest level in nearly two years.
The National Association of Realtors said its seasonally adjusted index for pending sales of existing homes jumped 4.1% from a month earlier to 101.4. Economists expected a 1.3% increase, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey.
Meanwhile, new applications for unemployment benefits fell less than analysts expected last week, a sign the labour market's recovery is slowing.
Initial jobless claims decreased by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 388 000, the Labor Department said. Economists expected a decline to 376 000, according to a Dow Jones Newswires poll. The department also revised the prior week's reading slightly higher.
At 16:49 local time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.37% to 13 139.35 points local time.