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JSE lower as banks ease off fresh highs

Dec 20 2017 18:44
Martin Harris, EasyEquities

Cape Town - The JSE closed mixed on Wednesday, with the All Share index receding 0.24% while the blue-chip Top 40 closed flat.

The rand firmed 0.70% to trade at R12.61 against the dollar and R14.98 against the euro at the close of the JSE. 

The Banks index fell 2.20% as investors look to take profits off the table.  The banking sector reached fresh highs following the ANC elective conference victory by Cyril Ramaphosa. Barclays Africa [JSE:BGA] slipped 5.31% to R181.10 and Standard Bank [JSE:SBK] 3.35% to R191.26.

Gold prices rose for the third consecutive day, with the precious metal trading at $1 264.79/Oz.  Gold has risen more than 2% from a recent low of $1 235/Oz, assisted by a weakening dollar that makes gold more affordable for holders of other currencies.

Steinhoff International [JSE:SNH] fell 34% as the company battles to contain the fallout from its accounting scandal. On Tuesday the retail giant disappointed investors and lenders by disclosing that it was unable to give details on the extent of the alleged fraud at the company. 

According to financial analyst Mark Ingham, other than debt disclosure, the presentation given to the bankers is very light on operational trading information.  On top of this, if their working capital position is not assisted, creditors will simply refuse to provide goods on account - resulting in stock shortages across their retail stores. 

Echo Polska Properties [JSE:EPP] fell 20.1% to R13.95, after Polish anti-corruption authorities arrested a non-executive director at the airport on Wednesday.

In the US, markets opened firmer after the Senate approved the tax reform bill on a 51-48 vote in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The measure will now head back to the House, which had cleared it on Tuesday, following news that lawmakers violated a Senate procedural measure called the Byrd Rule.

The green light will send the bill to President Trump to sign into law, sealing his first major legislative victory in office.

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