Johannesburg - South African stocks reversed the previous session's gains on Thursday as sentiment toward mining companies soured after data showed the sector's output slumped again in December.
Impala Platinum, the world's second-largest producer of the precious metal, led the way, losing over 3% after the company reported a 78% plunge in first-half profit and said it would issue a $500m convertible bond to prop up its ailing balance sheet.
Johannesburg's Top 40 - (Tradeable) [JSE:J200] index lost 0.28% to 36 285.09 and the All Share [JSE:J203] index shed 0.19% to 40 732.86.
Both indices - which have repeatedly hit record highs since last year - are within striking distance of their recent peaks and analysts said more market gains could be on the cards.
"I think the buying comes in on dips and the underlying trend remains quite firm," said Ferdi Heyneke, portfolio manager at Afrifocus Securities.
Thursday's dip was partly triggered by data that showed South African gold output fell 21% in December while that for platinum plunged 23%, underscoring the impact of a wave of violent wildcat strikes that rocked the industry last year.
Gold Fields, which unveiled a 20% fall in headline earnings it attributed to the strikes, fell almost 2% to R90.26.
Global mining giant Anglo American was down 1.4% at R75.32.
Retailer Woolworths shed 2.6% after reporting a 21% rise in first-half profit, as investors worried the stock price has outpaced the company's growth potential.
Bucking the downtrend, gold producer Sibanye, a spin-off of two Gold Fields' mines in South Africa that listed on Monday, shot up almost 8% to R16.30.
Analysts have said the company should be a good yield play as the mines are mature and should deliver cash and dividends.
Some 169 million shares were traded, according to preliminary bourse statistics with decliners outpacing advancers 159 to 110.
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