Johannesburg - South African stocks took a breather from their record run on Thursday, edging down in line with emerging market peers that lost the last of their post-Fed gains as global attention switched to a battle over the US budget.
Gold producer AngloGold Ashanti was one of the few bright spots on the bourse, adding 1.5 percent to 134.12 rand as bullion's spot price inched up on views that a possible US government shutdown next week will buff up gold's tarnished safe-haven status.
AngloGold, Africa's top bullion producer, also said on Thursday its Tropicana mine in Australia has started production ahead of schedule and within budget.
But the overall tone was down after the market raced to record highs briefly in the morning session, following Wednesday's record closes for the main indices.
Anglo American Platinum fell 0.63 percent ahead of an expected strike on Friday by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) to protest against 3,000 job cuts at the world's top producer of the precious metal.
The Top-40 index lost 0.17 percent to 39,755.23. The All-share index shed 0.23 percent to 44,350.31.
“You can't just do record highs all the time. It's just not possible. You get tired of seeing them,” said Christie Viljoen, an economist at NKC Independent Economists.
Technical factors also weighed after charts suggested the market had strayed into, or near, overbought territory.
Since recovering from the 2008 financial crisis, stocks in Africa's biggest economy have weathered bad news including strikes, sputtering growth, credit downgrades and waning consumer demand to notch up a string of record highs.
But according to recent research from South Africa's Cannon Asset Managers, 25 percent of the performance comes from just three stocks: brewer SABMiller, luxury firm Richemont and media group Naspers.
More broadly, Viljoen said equities investors were betting on a brighter South African story next year.
“The economy is looking bad at the moment but next year it should be looking better and the equities markets are looking ahead,” he said.
Decliners outnumbered advancers 159 to 136 with 68 shares unchanged, according to preliminary bourse data. Volumes were low with around 130 million shares changing hands. - Reuters