MARKET WRAP: JSE falls as banking sector weighs

The JSE started the week in the red, weighed down by banking and financial stocks. Global markets were also lower with US markets closed for Martin Luther King Jr Day.

The JSE all share index closed down 0.76% at 73,675.74 points, while the top 40 shed 0.87%. Banks fell 2.48%, financials 1.81% and resources 0.86%. 

Among banking shares, FirstRand fell the most since December 2022, down 4.14% to R67.43. Standard Bank lost 2.31% to R203.69, Absa 2.21% to R159.21 and Nedbank 2.09% to R215.25.

Among resources and mining stocks, Sibanye eased 4.13% to R22.97, Impala Platinum 2.39% to R75.44 and Anglo American Platinum 2.35% to R862.54.

Stocks have had a disappointing start to the year after a strong showing in December, and with very little local market-moving company news, investors have focused on the global interest rates trajectory and geopolitical tension in the Middle East. 

Investors will be eyeing a busy week with data on Chinese fourth-quarter growth, UK inflation, and US retail sales all due on Wednesday, Reuters reported. They will also be listening closely to central bank officials, especially the Federal Reserve’s Christopher Waller, whose dovish turn in late November helped to send markets soaring and who speaks on Tuesday, the news agency said. 

The annual World Economic Forum in Davos starts today, with participants expected to discuss global economic and geopolitical challenges.

The rand opened slightly softer from last week’s closing level, reflecting a buoyant dollar.

“The recent 18.50/18.85 trading range remains intact for now,” said Andre Cilliers, currency strategist at TreasuryONE. 

At 5.33pm the local unit had weakened 0.49% to R18.7038/$, 0.43% to R20.4647/€ and 0.39% to R23.7924/£.

Gold continued to benefit from safe haven demand stemming from the Middle East tension, while markets raised bets that the US Federal Reserve will cut rates sooner than expected, Reuters reported.

The war between Israel and Hamas has passed the 100-day mark as Israel continues its offensive, while the Houthi militia’s threat to respond to US air strikes on Yemen kept risks elevated.

At 5.40pm, London’s FTSE 100 was down 0.39%, France’s CAC 40 0.63% and Germany’s DAX 0.37%.

At 6.03pm, gold was 0.24% higher at $2,053.77/oz and platinum had added 0.47% to $913.16/oz. Brent crude was 0.56% lower at $77.72 a barrel.

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