JSE stocks eke out small gains

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The JSE board in Sandton in Johannesburg. Photo: Leon Nicholas.

Johannesburg - South African stocks eked out a fourth straight session of gains on Monday, lead by retailers such as Spar Group and Woolworths, which analysts say are now presenting value after underperforming the wider market this year.

Food retailers especially are seen getting a boost as consumers' restraint eases over the approaching Christmas period, though the national mood has been subdued by the death of the country's first black president Nelson Mandela.

“The market is now looking for cheaper stocks that stayed behind the rally we have had this year, and the retailers are a good example,” said Abri du Plessis, Chief Investment Officer at Gryphon Asset Management.

After gaining 45 percent last year, Johannesburg's general retail index is down 10 percent so far in 2013 compared to a 13 percent rise in the All-share index, which remains within striking distance of recently scaled life highs.

Du Plessis also said food retailers should get a Christmas lift “because people will indulge in food and liquor this time of the year.”

But furniture and clothing retailers would not fare as well since consumers remain under pressure on a range of fronts, from high levels of debt to income lost to strikes.

The Top-40 index added 0.31 percent to 40,028.41 while the wider All-share climbed 0.26 percent to 44,732.42.

Grocer Spar zipped up 3 percent to 127.86 rand while up-market food retailer Woolworths added 1.3 percent to 74.10 rand.

Gold shares were under pressure as bullion's spot price was pinned near 5-month lows around $1,230 an ounce.

Africa's top producer of the precious metal AngloGold Ashanti shed almost 1.5 percent to 125.50, the lowest in about 2-1/2 months.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 170 to 140, according to preliminary bourse data, while 47 issues remained unchanged.

Volumes were fairly modest with around 146 million shares swapping hands. - Reuters

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