Johannesburg - The JSE followed global markets lower on Friday after investors decided worldwide to take a breather and bank some profits.
Most of the major indices on the JSE were lower by mid-morning after the seven-day winning streak on markets in the USA and in Asia came to a halt on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
US President Donald Trump’s unconvincing performance at his first solo press conference also spooked investors. He adopted a combative stance against the news media and deflected questions about contacts between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives, giving investors reason to pause.
"Trump’s erratic performance in the press conference has had a destabilizing influence on investor confidence, " said Angus Gluskie, managing director of White Funds Management in Sydney.
Shares that were not normally on the forefront on the JSE made the headlines on Friday morning, particularly South32 [JSE:S32], of which more than 10 million shares were sold after the company declared its first dividend.
The All–share index at mid-morning was 0.58% down on 52 281 points and the Top 40 index traded 0.69% lower on 45 172 points.
Among the major indices the Financial index was the biggest loser, shedding 1.21% by mid-morning. The Resources index was 0.43% softer and the Industrial index lost 0.49%. The Gold index traded 0.48% higher.
The rand also took a breather and at mid-morning stood at R13.10 to the dollar, after breaching R13.00/$ the previous two days.
South32 delivered strong financial results and announced a first interim dividend of 3.6 US cents per share. In early trade the stock was more than 2% higher, but lost momentum and gave up all those gains by mid-morning to trade only 0.42% higher at R26.28. More than 10.7 million shares were sold for R243m in early trade.
The company made a profit of $857m from continuing operations compared to a loss of $1 587m in the first half of the previous year.
Management said the turnaround was the result of the disciplined application of their strategy and stronger commodity prices.
Among the top commodity stocks BHP Billiton [JSE:BIL] lost 0.52% to R227.85, but Anglo American [JSE:AGL] was only 0.05% softer at R219.77. Glencore[JSE:GLN] strengthened 0.78% higher.
Gold Field’s [JSE:GFI] share price disappointed despite good results. The company announced normalised earnings of $191m for the 2016 financial year after a loss of $45m the previous year. The mining group also announced a final dividend of 60 cents per share, but the stock still lost 1.6% to R44.28.
Sibanye [JSE:SGL] was 0.21% softer at R29.19, and AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG] gained 0.09% to R172.53.
Truworths [JSE:TRU] announced on Thursday that its operating profit for the six months until December was only 3% higher, but the market liked the news that the company increased cash from operations by 7% to R2.2bn, and that an interim dividend of 270c/share was declared.
The share price gained sharply for the second consecutive day and at mid-morning was 4.19% higher at R87.70. The stock gained more than 5% over the previous seven days and more than 9% over the past month.
Standard Bank [JSE:SBK], one of the South African banks which will be prosecuted by the Competition Tribunal for collusion in the foreign exchange market, traded 1.60% lower at R145.95.