MARKET WRAP: JSE flat as Naspers offsets slump by banks

The JSE was little changed on Monday, as a strong performance by market heavyweight Naspers offset a slump by banks and gold miners.

Global markets were higher as investors cheered news that US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, might seal a formal trade deal on about March 27, due to significant progress in talks between the two countries in recent weeks.

Rand hedges and Naspers were in favour, but banks and financial stocks slipped sharply, as the rand hovered at a two-week low to the dollar.

The all share rose 0.02% to 56,217.1 points, while the top 40 gained 0.11%. Gold miners slumped 5.4%, banks 2.43% and financials 1.51%. Industrials added 1.14%.

Gold miners felt the most pressure as the price of the precious metal hovered at a five-week low as investors lost interest in safe-haven assets.

The miners are also facing the prospect of a strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which could begin in the coming days.

Focus this week will be on news from the US-China trade negotiations, while local GDP numbers for the fourth quarter are due on Tuesday.

US nonfarm payrolls data on Friday could generate volatility in the rand, as the market scrutinises the numbers for clues of future US Federal Reserve monetary policy.

Shortly after the JSE closed the Dow was up 0.21% at 26,076.03 points, while in Europe, the FTSE 100 had gained 0.49%, the CAC 40 0.72% and the DAX 30 0.22%.

Gold was down 0.54% to $1,285.29/oz and platinum 2.26% to $838.84. Brent crude had gained 1.88% to $66.10 a barrel.

Naspers leapt 3.34% to R3,157, tracking gains in Hong Kong-listed Tencent, in which it is the biggest shareholder.

MAS Real Estate fell 0.65% to R22.85. Earlier it reported distribution per share of 3.78 euro cents for the six months to end-December, up from the 3.58c in the prior matching period.

Stadio jumped 8.11% to R3.60, after saying revenue for the year to end-December jumped five-fold to R632m from the corresponding period in 2017. It also reported an increase in the number of enrolled students.

RCL Foods gained 4.81% to R13.50. This was despite interim headline earnings falling 26.3% to R475.1m in the six months to end-December. The poultry producer attributed the fall to lower prices in one of its units due to oversupply.  It also said high levels of imports, particularly from Brazil, were a headwind.

Capitec slipped 3.62% to R1,252.88, despite saying that it expected headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the year ended February to be between R45.14 and R46.30, representing an increase of between 17% and 20% on the prior comparative period. Analysts said this was below expectations.

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