Johannesburg - South African stocks put in a second straight day of gains on Tuesday, coming within striking distance of recently scaled peaks after global markets overcame a jolt from a US-Israel missile test near Syria.
Shares of Discovery Holdings, South Africa's largest health insurer, were in the spotlight, adding 3.20 percent to 87 rand after the group posted a 19 percent rise in full-year earnings.
But the market's overall performance was attributed to global flows rather than local fundamentals, which look shaky on a number of fronts with a strike by 80,000 gold miners due to start Tuesday night that is seen costing Africa's biggest economy around $35 million a day in lost output.
International markets maintained a rally sparked on Monday by a round of promising global factory data, but were briefly jarred following reports Russian radar had detected two ballistic 'objects' heading towards the eastern Mediterranean.
Johannesburg stocks pared gains on the news while European shares fell into the red, but confirmation from Israel it was a test firing helped markets recover by midday.
“Syria is next door to Turkey which is one of the big emerging markets from an investment perspective, and so is South Africa,” said Christie Viljoen, an economist at NKC Independent Economists.
“So if money flows in and out of one, it will probably do the same in the other as well. We have no fundamentals to go on here. Look at the gold index, it is up and it should be down on fundamentals,” he said.
South Africa's gold index added one percent despite the looming stoppage and little movement in the spot price of the precious metal.
Johannesburg's blue-chip JSE Top-40 index rose 0.44 percent to 38,513.85, approaching its life-high of 38,973.55 reached last month. The broader All-share index added 0.39 percent to 42,892.25, also edging toward its record high.
Both indices suffered their biggest weekly fall in over two months last week, partly on worries of possible US military action against Syria, accused of carrying out a gas attack.
Trade was relatively subdued, with 133.5 million shares changing hands, according to preliminary bourse data. Advancers outnumbered decliners 195 to 115 with 56 shares unchanged. - Reuters