Johannesburg - The JSE was firm at its opening on Friday amid
a positive finish on Wall Street overnight, which also flowed into Asian markets.
A local trader noted that local stocks also reacted positively to the World Bank's approval of Eskom's loan application for a $3.75bn loan to help South Africa secure its electricity supply.
By 09:22 the JSE all share index was up 0.62%, with resources 0.86% higher and platinum miners gained 0.40%. Gold miners were flat, up 0.05%. Banks were 0.76% firmer, financials added 0.57% and the industrial index picked up 0.37%.
The rand was bid at R7.22 to the dollar, from R7.27 at the JSE's close on Thursday. Gold was quoted at $1 154.86 a troy ounce from $1 150.39/oz at the JSE's last close. Platinum was at $1 719/oz from $1 710/oz at the JSE's last close.
A local trader said: "Stocks are firmer this morning, having come off markedly in places yesterday, with financials in particular, weaker.
"The local bourse is also feeding off positive sentiment from abroad, with Asia higher and the Dow closing firmer overnight.
"Local stocks also reacted positively to the decision on Eskom, with construction stocks benefiting," the trader said.
Dow Jones Newswires reported that European stocks are set to open higher on Friday, with Thursday's positive session on Wall Street offering support despite continuing concerns about Greece.
It may have been the falling US consumer credit that triggered a degree of uncertainty in equity markets earlier in the week but news on Thursday of some solid sales figures from a number of North American retailers saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average marching back towards the 11 000 level and it is set to drag Europe up with it at the opening, said Ben Potter, analyst at IG Markets.
However, the future direction of the market will depend on the upcoming US first-quarter earnings season, Potter added. "This goes into full swing next week, kicking off as usual with Alcoa on Monday. Given the recent rally seen in the Standard
& Poor's 500 index, expectations are elevated [and], with the index trading on 19x earnings, we will need to see a stellar earnings season to justify the current optimism. As it stands, the market is pricing in estimated earnings growth of 37%," Potter said.
He called London's FTSE 100 index to open up 24 points at 5737, Frankfurt's DAX index around 44 points higher at 6216 and Paris's CAC-40 index up 26 points at 4004.
Still, confusion over the terms of a Greek rescue package continued to weigh on sentiment, despite the European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet's attempt to soothe rattled investors by dismissing the notion of a Greek debt default in Thursday's press conference following the bank's announcement
that its key interest rate would be kept at 1%.
However, Trichet's "inability to clarify matters on, for example, what circumstances would trigger an intervention, or at what rates the assistance would be provided to Greece, highlighted the lack of clarity on the key issues related to the provision of financial support for Greece which are contributing to the recent turmoil in its markets," said Kenneth Wattret, an economist at BNP Paribas.
On Wall Street on Thursday, stocks closed higher as news of stronger-than-expected retail sales boosted investors' hopes for the first-quarter reporting season that kicks off next week.
The DJIA climbed 0.3%, to 10,927.07.
The positive finish on Wall Street lent Asian stock markets support on Friday, with stocks trading mostly modestly higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 was up 0.3% and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.2%, as both markets traded off earlier highs. South Korea's Kospi Composite dropped 0.6%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.3% and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.8%.
- I-Net Bridge