The Johannesburg Stock Exchange. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko
JOHANNESBURG - South African stocks fell on Thursday led by precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater reporting an annual loss and cutting its dividend, while the rand remained range bound amid risk-on sentiment in emerging assets.

On the bourse, the benchmark Top-40 index fell 0.91 percent to 51,259 points while the All-Share index lowered 0.77 percent to 58,155 points.

Sibanye led Johannesburg-listed shares lower, down 16.36 percent to 11.30 rand underscoring disappointment among investors after reporting an attributable loss for 2017, high debt levels and cutting off the dividend stream that has made it an investor darling.

“The market is looking at the size of the debt and they are concerned about that and as the afternoon has gone on the share price has come down,” said Cratos Capital equities trader Greg Davies.

Further losses were curbed by the retail sector which lifted 2.4 percent with Massmart up 8.81 percent to 155.00 rand and clothing retailer TFG up 2.36 percent to 217.00 rand.

The rand was barely changed at 1554 GMT up 0.09 percent at 11.6550 to the dollar compared to its New York close on Wednesday.

The currency benefited from an improved risk sentiment in emerging markets with the dollar coming off 10-day highs as news that the U.S. Federal Reserve was on track to raise interest rates several times this year started to fade.

“There’s a general risk-on sentiment, the rand is in positive territory and so are the rest of the emerging markets,” said currency trader at RMB Bank Jan Sluis-Cremer.

In fixed income, government bonds were stronger, with the yield on the benchmark instrument due in 2026 down 1.5 basis points to 8.020 percent.