South African resources such as diversified miner Exxaro led the wider market lower on Friday as investors worry about plans by central banks pumping out more cash to boost global economic growth.
Woolworths extended gains as UBS raised its rating for the upscale retailer and gave it a 'buy' rating after the company beat analysts forecast with a 24 percent rise in full-year profits in the previous session.
“At this point the market is sitting on a knife edge and kind of trading in a very small range, waiting for information flow to act as catalyst to push this market either way,” said Deryck Janse van Rensberg, portfolio manager at BoE Stockbrokers.
“It's just general profit taking and risk aversion taking place,” he said.
The benchmark Top-40 index ended 0.13 percent down at 31,567.19, while the broader All-Share index closed 0.14 percent lower at 35,794.12.
Investors are waiting to see how much of a punch central banks will give to the stumbling global economy.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other central bank leaders will meet in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, next week for an annual get-together that often hints at what monetary policy is to come.
Almost two-thirds of investors believe the Federal Reserve may be about to embark on its third money-printing or quantitative easing round, a Reuters poll finds.
South Africa's bourse is very resource-heavy and any indication of economic recovery in its trading partners translates into faster growth at home, and vice versa.
“The first sight that stimulus is going to walk out the door, resource stocks are going to get hit quite hard on the back of that,” Janse van Rensberg said.
Exxaro, which produces coal, mineral sands and has an exposure to iron ore, dipped 3.15 percent to 170.50 rand, while Kumba Iron ore, one of the world's top producers of the steel-making ingredient, fell 1.81 percent to 544 rand.
Gainers were led by top-end clothing retailers Woolworth's and Truworths adding 4.91 percent to 59.45 rand and 1.2 percent to 95.84 rand, respectively.
Trade volumes were low, with nearly 142 million shares changing hands, according to late bourse statistics, compared with last year's daily average of 225 million shares.
Advancers outnumbered decliners at 148 to 140. A total of 69 stocks were unchanged. - Reuters