Uncertainty over China, platinum strikes sink stocks

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Reuters

Stocks slipped yesterday, with platinum producer Lonmin hitting a nine-year low after labour unrest in the sector showed no sign of letting up and mining companies struggled to find support as China’s appetite for metals wanes.

Resource sector losses were stemmed by a rise in industrial companies.

The blue chip Top40 index decreased by 0.28 percent to 30 797.76 points, while the broader all share index gave up 0.33 percent to 35 045.55.

Investors offloaded their holdings in mining companies on concerns that the violent four-week strike at Lonmin’s Marikana mine would extend beyond the platinum industry.

“Resources and mining shares are just going one way, down, because of these strikes and uncertainty around China,” Rigardt Maartens at PSG Securities said.

China indicated this week that it was not in a rush to stoke its rapid growth that had helped power a commodities boom.

Lonmin plunged 4.88 percent to R71.70, with striking workers threatening to bring it to its knees if their demands for a monthly base pay of R12 500 were not met.

Rivals Anglo American Platinum dropped 1.46 percent to R399.09 and Impala Platinum (Implats) fell 0.63 percent to R125.60. Implats confirmed it had received new wage demands from workers.

Gold producers bucked the trend. AngloGold Ashanti and Gold Fields both gained 2.9 percent to R269.15 and R103.94 respectively.

Gold Fields said that 12 000 strikers at its Kloof-Driefontein Complex mine agreed to return to duty after the National Union of Mineworkers intervened.

Richemont rose 1.74 percent to R52.71. The maker of IWC watches and Cartier jewellery expects its half-year operating profit to rise by as much as 40 percent.

“There is no local market for shares with high price-to-earnings ratios but foreign investors, attracted by good yields, are piling into these stocks,” Thys van Zyl at Thebe Stock Broking said.


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