Platinum stocks lift JSE to positive close

Johannesburg-S.A. (Apr 22)  The JSE closed in the green on Tuesday, with all the major indices ending higher, except gold miners.

At 5pm, the all share index had added 0.58% to close at 48,643.31 with the blue chip top 40 index up 0.61%.

Platinum stocks led the gainers, with the index firming 0.97% on renewed hopes of a resolution to the three-month strike over wages in the sector.

"It is quite interesting to see there’s still some buying interest coming into these stocks given the ongoing labour tensions in the sector," said Afrifocus portfolio manager Ferdi Heyneke.

On Tuesday the CEOs of Anglo American Platinum‚ Impala Platinum and Lonmin met with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union leadership in an attempt to end the dispute that is reported to have cost the industry billions of rand in lost revenue. Talks are expected to continue on Wednesday.

The financial index posted the second-biggest gains on the market, led by the more than 2% jump in Old Mutual, while the gold index lost 0.67%, in line with the pull back in the metal price.

At 5.21pm, spot gold was down 0.52% to $1,282.65 per ounce.

Among individual shares on the JSE, junior miner Aquarius dropped 42.28 % to R4.30 due to ex-rights trade, while the rest of the platinum stocks were all firmer, with Impala in the lead, up 1.14% to R123.40.

South Africa’s largest steel maker ArcelorMittal gained 3.36% to R38.50.

Gold miner Sibanye lost 1.33% to R25.93 and Gold Fields declined 1.26% to R42.20.

Shares of financial services counter Old Mutual ended 2.03% higher at R35.20.

Food retailers posted the biggest percentage gains in the sector, with Pick n Pay jumping 5.49% to R57.60. Steinhoff rose 2.90% to R53.65 on news the diversified retail giant will be listing on the German stock exchange.

Local pharmaceutical stocks were weaker with Aspen relinquishing 2.51% to R271.01 and Medi-Clinic declining 2.59% to R72.16.

Paper maker Sappi surged 5.45% to R35.43.

Across international markets, pharmaceutical shares led European markets higher Tuesday amid a flurry of deal activity and speculation, Dow Jones newswires reported.

Shares in drug maker AstraZeneca leapt as much as 8% on reports it had been approached by Pfizer about a potential takeover, while GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis also rose after announcing a series of transactions that will reshape both companies, the newswire said.

At 5,10pm local time London’s FTSE 100 had added 0.92% with the Paris Cac climbing 1.14%.

Meanwhile equity markets on Wall Street were also off to a positive start, supported by upbeat corporate earnings. Analysts say so far, US corporate earnings releases have been better than expected.