The JSE slipped on Thursday‚ with broad weakness in financial and industrial shares offsetting a rebound in the resources sector.
The all share index was off 0.26% to 53‚315.5 points at lunchtime‚ with the top 40 dipping 0.34%.
Aspen Pharmacare slid as much as 11% to lead losses in the top 40‚ after the generic drugs maker said its full-year earnings would be affected by an R870m one-off currency-related loss in Venezuela‚ as well as the sale of two pharmaceutical portfolios to Strides Arcolab.
Financial stocks were mostly lower on account of the poorly received financial results from Sanlam‚ which reported a 7% drop in first-half normalised headline earnings.
But the resources shares fared relatively well despite the stronger rand‚ which breached R14.90/$ in morning trade.
Further afield‚ trading was generally cautious as investors awaited the European Central Bank’s (ECB’s) interest-rate decision in the afternoon. Rates are expected to remain unchanged‚ but the ECB might provide further information on planned stimulus measures to boost growth and combat deflationary tendencies in the eurozone.
“Trading in the next session or two is likely to be indecisive unless the ECB announces an extension of its bond-buying programme in terms of the duration thereof and type of assets being purchased‚” Momentum SP Reid Securities analysts said.
Europe’s leading markets were modestly lower at midday while US stock futures pointed to a positive opening on Wall Street.
Aspen plummeted 8.44% to R331.24 while Steinhoff recovered 2.89% to R84.27.
Sanlam was 3.5% lower to R64.53‚ with Discovery losing 2.7% to R120.95. MMI Holdings gave up 2.4% to R23.60.
Standard Bank was off 2.04% to R136.91 and FirstRand was 0.89% lower at R46.70 after reporting annual normalised earnings per share to end-June grew 8%.
Anglo American was up 1.99% to R160.36 and BHP Billiton climbed 1.2% to R188.67. African Rainbow Minerals rallied 2.03% to R93.62 and Kumba Iron Ore gained 2.32% to R140.50.