The reception area of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. File picture: Leon Nicholas

Banks pushed the JSE to yet another closing high on Thursday‚ albeit off its intraday best levels‚ despite no evident progress made towards an agreement on the fiscal cliff issue in the US. But expectations are for a successful outcome.

At 5pm‚ the all share index closed up 0.14% to 39‚220.96 points with banks surging 1.91%‚ while gold miners gave up most on the day‚ giving back 1.04%.

For the month‚ the all-share index is up 3%‚ led by platinum counters‚ up more than 11%‚ while banks have gained almost 9%.

“High value trade was experienced on the JSE today due to futures close-out with a lot of contracts been closed or rolled-over before year-end‚” a local trader said.

“Banking stocks did very well today due to the stronger rand with Standard Bank and Investec showing strong gains after begin the laggers in the banking sector for a long time‚” a local trader said.

Standard Bank (SBK) closed 1.95% higher at R119.27‚ not far off its all-time high of R120 reached in August this year. Investec Ltd (INL) ticked up 1.72% to close at R59.05.

Major European markets were little moved‚ due to uncertainty about the US fiscal cliff issue‚ which has kept market participants on the sidelines. London’s FTSE 100 index was 0.12% softer at 4.56pm local time and the Dow Jones was 0.15% lower at the same time.

Big news on Thursday was the Bank of Japan increasing its asset purchase programme by ¥10-trillion to ¥101-trillion. This move is likely to be good for markets. The additional purchases will be evenly split between short- and long-term Japanese government bonds.

On the local front‚ Gold Fields (GFI) lost 1.72% to R98.92‚ while Harmony (HAR) tacked on 2.03% to R69.79.

Amongst builders M&R Holdings (MUR) gained 2.08% to close at R24.50‚ while PPC (PPC) gave back 1.55% to R34.94‚ after a good run over the past few days. - I-Net Bridge