MARKET WRAP: JSE closes higher despite US-China strife

The JSE closed higher on Thursday, with global markets undeterred by the continued tit-for-tat trade-tariff battle between the US and China.  

The tension between the two superpowers has been the main driver of the markets this week as their game of brinkmanship escalated.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order giving way to authorities to ban Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from the US market, which further intensified the dispute between the two countries.

Global markets shrugged off anxiety about the trade conflict on Thursday, however, with most gaining.

By the close the JSE all share was up 0.88% at 56,537.7 points with resources leading the gains, up 1.08%. The top 40 rose 0.97%.

Anglo American climbed 2.31% to R357.76 after it reported that its subsidiary, diamond producer De Beers, intends to construct a seventh recovery vessel in the Debmarine Namibia fleet. The venture between De Beers and the Namibian government will cost $468m.

BHP Group rose 1.8% to R325.88. 

Among the biggest gainers feeding off global sentiment, Naspers was up 1.84% to R3,375. Kumba Iron Ore leapt 5.65% to R420.57 after five consecutive days of losses. Exxaro added 1.86% to R157.80 and Assore 4.46% to R373.15. 

Gold miners fell on the day with AngloGold Ashanti leading the losses, down 3.57% to R163.22. Sibanye-Stillwater dropped 3.19% to R11.52, Gold Fields 2.33% to R52.71, and Harmony Gold 2.79% to R22.26.  

Dis-Chem lost 0.91% to R27.29, despite it saying on Thursday that its revenues grew 10% to R21.4bn in the year ended February.

Investec Ltd rose 3.66% to R92.37 after the bank reported a 5.8% rise in earnings for the year to end-March, citing improved performance from its UK business.

ICT group Datatec was up 0.47% to R32.15 after the company reported headline earnings of $1.6m for the year ended February, from a $41.3m loss in the previous year.

The rand was firmer against major currencies on Thursday afternoon, as risk-on trade continued. At 6.12pm, it had pared some of its earlier gains to trade flat at R14.2157/$, up 0.24% to R15.8865/€, and 0.42% to R18.1845/£. 

Some analysts are expecting the rand to remain range-bound due to some concern over the US-China trade war. Locally, all eyes are on the upcoming post-election events, including the appointment of a new Cabinet that will affect how President Cyril Ramaphosa executes his expected economic reform.

Shortly after the JSE closed, the Dow was up 0.98% to 25,899.68. The FTSE 100 had gained 0.52%, the CAC 40 1.04% and the DAX 30 1.49%.

Gold was down 0.66% to $1,287.92/oz and platinum 1.09% to $837.43.

Brent crude climbed 1.61% to $73.04 a barrel, supported by concern over possible conflict in the Middle East, which has prompted the US to withdraw non-essential personnel from Iraq. This follows rising tension between the US and Iran over the latter’s nuclear programme.

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