Johannesburg - South African shares let go some of the record gains they made earlier this week as investors booked profits, and as resource companies such as AngloGold Ashanti wilted under the threat of strikes.
However, Sibanye Gold rallied 4.8 percent to 14.18 rand after it declared its maiden dividend and said third-quarter production rose 9 percent from the previous three months.
“We have been close to record highs for most of the last week or so, the market is taking a breather,” said Greg Davies, a trader at Cratos Capital.
The benchmark Top-40 index shed 0.2 percent to 40,658.55, while the broad All-Share was down 0.21 percent to 45,517.56.
Both indices hit record closes for three consecutive days this week as markets wagered the US Federal Reserve would not cut back its economic stimulus bond purchases.
Investors would be guided by the rand in coming sessions after the currency weakened past the 10 rand/dollar for the first time in three weeks.
“Perhaps the market will rotate into rand hedge stocks next week,” Davies said, referring to companies whose large overseas operations make them relatively immune to domestic currency volatility.
The gold index was down 3 percent, led by AngloGold, which fell more than 5 percent to 152.70 rand.
AMCU, a hardline union, on Thursday declared a wage dispute with platinum mining company Lonmin, raising the possibility of a strike across South Africa's platinum industry and the gold sector too, where it has significant membership.
Lonmin shares were down 1.6 percent at 51.42 rand.
Junior producer Northam Platinum fell 2.5 percent to 41.20 rand after a separate union, the National Union of Mineworkers, gave the company a 48-hour strike notice.
Sun International lost 2.4 percent to 101.95 rand when COSATU, an union umbrella body, said more than 4,000 employees at the hotel and casino chain would also be staying away from work as from Friday.
Trading was robust with more than 163 million shares sold, according to preliminary statistics.
Decliners outpaced advancers 157 to 146. - Reuters