The JSE fell for a third consecutive session on Wednesday, led lower by market heavyweight Naspers, while retailers firmed on upbeat results from Spar.
The rand strengthened following a sharp drop on Tuesday, but Asian markets were generally lower. A 2% jump in the oil price benefited some diversified miners, although gold miners pared some of the safe-haven gains made earlier in the week.
European markets were mixed despite fears of political risk centred on Italy, with analysts warning that problems in that country could continue to rattle the market.
Emerging-market equities continue to be under some pressure from the prospect of global monetary policy tightening.
Global markets had switched to risk-off mode, with investors piling into US treasuries and selling global equities — emerging markets in particular, said Vestact analysts. But as quickly as things turn negative, they could turn positive, the analysts added.
The all share fell 0.6% to 55,601.6 points and the to 40 0.68%. General retailers fell 1.13%, industrials 1% and gold miners 0.9%. Platinums firmed 1.01% and food and drug retailers 0.78%.
Diversified miner BHP gained 1.47% to R284.44.
Spar added 2.87% to R192.92, after earlier reporting that net profit in the six months to end-March grew 13% to more than R1bn.
Steinhoff Africa Retail gained 3.86% to R17.50 and Shoprite 3.12% to R232.26.
Nampak rose 2.34% to R14.84, after earlier reporting that headline earnings per share increased 10% to R1.32 in the six months to end-March.
Naspers fell 2.19% to R3,020.44.
At 5.30pm, the Dow was up 0.78% to 24,551.24 points, while in Europe, the DAX 30 had added 0.59% and the FTSE 100 0.52%. The CAC 40 had fallen 0.47%.
At the same time, gold had gained 0.25% to $1,302.16/oz and platinum 0.17% to $908.67/oz. Brent crude was 2.2% higher at $77.01 a barrel.
The top 40 Alsi futures index fell 0.37% to 49,650 points. The number of contracts traded was 25,058 from Tuesday’s 21,143.