MARKET WRAP: JSE slumps in risk-off trade, with platinums falling 6.6%

The JSE slipped 1.86% on Wednesday, in broad-based losses, as a series of events prompted investors to shy away from risk assets.

The rand was weaker despite upbeat inflation data earlier, putting pressure on banks, financials and retail stocks.

The resurfacing of fears over global trade put pressure on commodity prices, ensuring local miners were lower on the day. The platinum index registered its largest one-day fall since July 2016.

Uncertainty regarding trade follows the US senate banking committee’s approval of legislation, on Tuesday, to tighten national-security reviews of Chinese technology giants, strengthen export controls, and prohibit the Trump administration from lifting stiff penalties imposed on Chinese telecoms company ZTE, reported Dow Jones Newswires.

Local data was positive, with inflation in April accelerating at a weaker pace than expected. Retailers failed to benefit from the slightly increased prospect of an interest-rate cut. While the impact of the hikes in the April fuel levy and sin taxes were immediately evident, the pass-through of the VAT increase was more muted, suggesting retailers had been absorbing some of the cost increases, said FNB senior economic analyst Jason Muscat.

The all share closed 1.86% lower at 57,043.40 points and the top 40 lost 1.93%. The platinum index shed 6.6%, resources 3.69%, the gold index 3.01%, food and drug retailers 2.08%, property 1.61%, and general retailers 1.53%.

Anglo American slumped 5.6% to R306.72. Sasol closed 4.64% off at R461.80.

Anglo American Platinum plummeted 7.52% to R335 and Impala Platinum 6.98% to R19.58.

FirstRand shed 1.8% to R60.50.

Steinhoff Africa Retail (Star) gained 2.22% to R17.50 after saying it had successfully paid back R16bn in shareholder loans.

MTN dropped 3.07% to R114.

Naspers lost 0.47% to R3,180 and Sappi 3.6% to R85.74.

Aspen Pharmacare fell 4.77% to R250.63 giving up most of the gains made on Monday, with the share bolstered by news China was considering relaxing its restrictions on the number of children people can have. Aspen has significant infant-formula interests in the country.

At 5.40pm, the Dow was down 0.38% to 24,739.67 points, while in Europe, the DAX 30 had lost 1.57%, the CAC 40 1.37% and the FTSE 100 1.07%.

At the same time, platinum had 0.74% to $901.32 an ounce while gold had gained 0.13% to $1,292. Brent crude had fallen 0.64% to $78.94 a barrel.

The top 40 Alsi futures fell 1.9% to 50,918 points. The number of contracts traded was 23,304 from Tuesday’s 18,502.