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

Johannesburg - South African shares rose on Monday on hopes for healthy banking sector earnings and a pick up in retail numbers while a weak local currency buoyed gold mining stocks such as AngloGold Ashanti.

Weak US employment data released on Friday gave emerging market shares a new lease on life as investors bet the Federal Reserve would stay its hand on the stimulus programme that has encouraged stock punters to consider less developed markets.

US employers hired the fewest workers in nearly three years in December, the data showed.

“The JSE is all smiles after last week's very dour jobs number. Low jobs number is bad news, but the market looks at it and says, for us it is good news,” said Lavan Gopaul, chief investment officer at Trademar Futures.

“As a result, they have been pumping cash into our market in a big way.”

Johannesburg's Top-40 index added 1.07 percent to 41,269.29, while the All-share gained 1.06 percent to 46,030.25.

AngloGold Ashanti was the highest blue chip gainer after adding 5.5 percent to 130.15 rand.

Gold shares were partly boosted by a 0.87 percent fall by the rand currency as their earnings are priced in dollars.

Spot gold, which rallied after the jobs data last week but steadied on Monday, also lent some muscle to Johannesburg-listed bullion producers.

Investors were also lapping up retailers in anticipation of good November retail sales data to be released on Wednesday.

Clothing retailer Truworths rose more than 4 percent to 78.60 rand, while high-end food and fashion outlet Woolworths was up more than 2 percent to 74.59 rand.

Fourth-quarter earnings reports by top US banks including JPMorgan Chase Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs later this week are already helping local financial stocks.

South Africa's biggest bank, Standard Bank, was up more than 2 percent to 130.25 rand.

Trade was thin with some 125 million shares sold, preliminary data showed.

But advancers were clearly in the lead, with 229 companies gaining compared with 87 declining. - Reuters