MARKET WRAP: JSE slips slightly, with Sasol diving 6%

The JSE edged lower on Wednesday, extending its losing streak to a fifth consecutive session, despite a strong performance by market heavyweight Naspers.

Naspers gained 4.25% to R2,710.41, after Tencent reported better-than-expected earnings in the third quarter.

Losses on the local bourse were broad-based, however, with retailers and banks lower despite a stronger rand, and easing oil price.

The all share lost 0.21% to 51,999.5 points and the top 40 fell 0.06%. Platinums lost 3.16%, resources 2.35% and banks 0.97%. Industrials gained 1.19%.

Brent crude has fallen to $65 a barrel, but analysts cautioned that this was also depressing global liquidity, and providing some support for the dollar. Despite a rebound on Wednesday, the lower oil price weighed on diversified miners and Sasol, with the latter plunging 6.13% to R437.50.

Local news was also downbeat, with retail sales growing 0.7% in October on an annualised basis, well below the 2.25% growth forecast by economists.

It was difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the deceleration, but it was likely that the accumulation of fuel price hikes in the preceding months left consumers far more circumspect, given the currency and oil price volatility at the time, said FNB senior economic analyst Jason Muscat.

“We expect to see some relief for consumers in the final quarter of 2018 as hefty fuel price cuts and decent real wage growth ease strained household finances,” Muscat said. A 25 basis-points interest-rate increase next week by the Reserve Bank, however, could upset this.

Diversified miner BHP fell 2.76% to R287.99 and Glencore 2.48% to R54.61.

Rand hedge British American Tobacco lost 2.08% to R532.67, extending its weekly loss to 14.99%. The share is under pressure on news US authorities are considering banning menthol cigarettes.

Sibanye-Stillwater firmed 0.72% to R8.40, as it continues to seek permission from competition authorities to take over embattled platinum miner Lonmin, despite signs it is facing opposition from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

Lonmin gave up 1.82% to R7.54.

Discovery rose 1.45% to R164.76, after earlier announcing that its new bank would be launched in March.

MTN gained 1.06% to R81.90, having earlier jumped 8% amid reports Nigerian authorities had slashed the size of a possible fine for alleged irregular monetary transfers to $800m from $8.1bn. The accuracy of those reports was later doubted.

Shortly after the JSE closed the Dow was up 0.68% at 25,458.86 points, while in Europe, the FTSE 100 had added 0.58%, the CAC 40 0.31% and the DAX 30 0.51%.

At the same time, gold was flat at $1,202.34 an ounce while platinum was down 0.26% to $839.45. Brent crude rebounded 3.27% to $67.31 a barrel. 

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