Johannesburg - Naspers [JSE:NPN], by far the biggest share on the JSE representing about 20% of the market’s value, traded almost 2% higher on Thursday morning on a day when most of the market was under pressure due to the rampant rand.
By mid-morning the share price was 1.98% higher at R2 160.99, at one stage trading at R2 174.00.
Naspers’ weight helped support the Industrial index on a day when most of the dual-listed shares were down due to the strong rand which at mid-morning traded at R12.93 to the dollar, the strongest level in 17 months.
By mid-morning on Thursday the Industrial index was 0.33% in the black, negating losses by the financial and resources sectors.
The result was that the All-share index at mid-morning was almost unchanged at 52 488 points, while the Top 40 index was 0.04% higher at 45 428 points. The Resources and Financial indices were both 0.33% down.
Naspers was supported by Tencent, the Chinese internet giant in which it holds a 34% stake, which traded 2.61% higher on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Hong Kong stocks climbed to a fresh five-month high due to swelling demand from mainland investors, thanks to China’s drive to tackle growing asset price bubbles and the Hong Kong market's relatively cheap valuations.
Naspers' interest in Tencent is currently worth about $83bn - more than its market value of $71bn, which means that Naspers offers an interest in Tencent at a discount.
Before Thursday’s jump the Naspers share price moved very little, losing 3.74% during the previous seven days’ trade. The stock is 4.7% higher over the past 30 days, but 9.5% softer over the previous 90 days.
Among the other giants in the industrial sector Anheuser-Busch InBev [JSE:ANH] was 0.43% softer at R1 394 and Richemont [JSE:CFR] traded 0.20% softer at R98.85. British American Tobacco [JSE:BTI] was 0.367% stronger at R96.75.
The financial sector is in the news after the announcement on Wednesday afternoon that 17 banks have been referred to the Competition Tribunal for the prosecution of alleged collusive forex practices.
READ: Competition Commission prosecutes banks for collusion
The Competition Commission said it started the investigation in 2015. This follows the pattern of similar probes and prosecutions in Europe and the United States – some of which resulted in large international banks, several of which were implicated in the South African case, paying more than $10bn in fines and settlements.
Three South African Banks- Absa, Standard Bank [JSE:SBK] and Investec [JSE:INP] - are among the 17 under investigation. Standard Bank traded 1.09% softer at R146.73 and Investec lost 0.76% to R95.51.
Barclays Africa [JSE:BGA], the holding company of Absa, traded 0.68% softer at R162.65. Absa will probably be spared a stiff penalty by the Competition Tribunal for its part in international forex collusion after it earlier came forward and confessed to the commission what was going on.
Commission spokesperson Sipho Ngwema confirmed that Absa applied for corporate leniency as whistle blower.
Retail companies have been on the forefront, with Woolworths [JSE:WHL] and Truworths [JSE:TRU] both sharply lower. Woolworths lost 3.23% to trade at R71.02 and Truworths was 1.97% softer at R81.76.
*Fin24's parent company Media24 is part of the Naspers Group.