Johannesburg - South African stocks ended lower on Monday, with lender Investec hardest-hit, as investors worldwide dumped riskier assets on renewed worries about the euro zone debt crisis.
But investors bought other domestic banks after rating agency Fitch gave an upbeat comment about their expansion across the continent, helping to restrict the downside momentum on the blue-chip index.
“The news out of Cyprus is hard to swallow but equity markets have had a good run recently, so some people are looking for a reason to take some profit,” said Andrew Bryson, a trader at Nedbank Private Wealth.
In a departure from previous EU practice that depositors' savings are sacrosanct, Cyprus and international lenders agreed at the weekend that savers in the island's outsized banking system would take a hit in return for the offer of $13 billion in aid.
The JSE Top-40 index was off 0.75 percent at 35,954.10 and the broader All-share index gave up 0.7 percent to 40,470.65.
Lender and asset manager Investec Plc, which also operates in Britain, lost 1.9 percent to 66.53 rand, making it the worst performer on the blue chip index.
Investment holding firm Remgro fell 1.7 percent to 174.40 rand and consumer foods maker Tiger Brands skidded 1.6 percent to 301.12 rand.
Palabora Mining retreated 2.9 percent to 100 rand after the copper miner said about 70 workers staged an underground sit-in at one of its mines.
Domestic banks recouped some lost ground with FirstRand rising 1.3 percent to 30.61 rand after shedding about 5 percent over the past two weeks. Rival Nedbank, which has fallen about 4 percent since early this month, was up 1.1 percent at 194.57 rand.
About 173 million shares changed hands, according to preliminary data, with 86 stocks gaining and 205 losing ground while 58 shares were unchanged. - Reuters