JSE stocks start off 2014 with another record

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

Johannesburg - South African stocks kicked off 2014 with another record close on Thursday, as investors snapped up precious metal producers such as AngloGold Ashanti and Impala Platinum, betting they had fallen too far last year.

Other companies with significant exposure to overseas markets, such as e-commerce firm Naspers and luxury goods maker Richemont remained in favour, helped by nagging concerns about lacklustre growth in Africa's largest economy.

South Africa's sluggish recovery will be a key theme for the equity market in 2014, particularly as investors are keen to see how weak growth will impact sectors such as banks and retailers.

“We see consumption stalling through H1 as rate hikes begin but also (and we suspect more importantly) credit growth to households continuing to slow,” said Peter Attard Montalto, an analyst at Nomura, said in a note to clients.

“The biggest downside risks to growth stem from an earlier-than-expected China hard landing and a faster crunch in consumption due to rate hikes and banking credit extension slowdowns.”

The benchmark Top-40 index finished up 0.73 percent at 41,785.98, its highest close on record and adding to a 19 percent advance in 2013.

Earlier in the session it briefly topped 42,000 for the first time.

The broader All-Share index advanced 0.72 percent to 46,589.70, it earlier hit a record high of 46,836.02.

Gold producer AngloGold Ashanti jumped 6 percent to 130.32 rand, helped by a recovery in the gold price.

Precious metal producers were also some of the worst performers in Johannesburg in 2013, with AngloGold losing a little over half of its value.

Impala Platinum followed suit, gaining 3.3 percent to 127 rand.

Its shares fell by more than a quarter in 2013.

Naspers, the best blue chip performer last year after its share price nearly doubled, gained 0.9 percent to 1,105.98 rand.

Richemont, the maker of Cartier watches and Mont Blanc pens, advanced 2.3 percent to 107 rand.

Trade volume was thin, with just 74 million shares changing hands according to preliminary bourse data. - Reuters

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