Johannesburg - South African stocks rose for a fifth straight trading session on Wednesday as better-than-expected retail sales numbers gave a boost to chain stores such as Shoprite and Woolworths Holdings.
Sentiment was also buoyed by expectations US politicians would strike a last-minute deal to prevent the world's largest economy from defaulting on its debt.
Retail sales in Africa's largest economy grew at 3 percent in August, well above the 1.2 percent growth economists had expected and alleviating some recent fears about the state of consumer spending.
“To add to the positive sentiment, we had retail sales surprising to the upside, so I suppose that's adding a bit more excitement,” said Martin Lentsoane, managing director of brokerage Lehumo Capital in Johannesburg.
The benchmark Top-40 index rose 0.21 percent to 39,674.70.
The broader All-Share index added 0.27 percent to 44,418.01.
Shares of Shoprite, Africa's largest retailer, gained 2 percent to 175 rand.
Woolworths, which sells clothing, organic produce and other high-end food, rose 0.6 percent to 75.52 rand.
Rival Massmart also added 0.6 percent, to 162.99 rand.
Separately, an executive at Kenyan retailer Naivas told Reuters on Wednesday the company was no longer in talks to sell a controlling stake to Massmart.
The chairman of unlisted Naivas had said in August the company was in discussions to sell a stake to Massmart, which has said it is looking to expand into east Africa's largest economy.
Banks were also higher as investors shrugged off news of losses this year related to card hacking.
Major banks, including Standard Bank and Barclays Africa Group, have been swindled of millions of dollars this year by an international fraud syndicate that stole card details from restaurant chains, an industry group said.
Standard Bank, Africa's largest lender, rose 2.5 percent to 127.50 rand.
Barclays Africa added 2.1 percent to 157.49 rand.
Trade was active with 170 million shares changing hands on the bourse, according to preliminary data.
A total of 177 shares advanced while 122 declined. - Reuters