The JSE. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

The JSE closed firmer on Thursday picking up momentum near the close‚ with gold miners and resources leading the upside.

“The JSE was picking up momentum as we were getting into the close on the back of much better economic data out of US‚” said David Shapiro‚ director at Sasfin Securities.

“There was an overall better feel to the market today and it was not a bad trading day at all‚” he added.

“The dollar picked up and therefore the rand weakened a bit‚ which has an impact on our resources. Even though the market was driven by resources‚ there was a solid underpin by industrials. We have seen our retailers down for no particular reason apart from them having had a strong run lately‚” he said.

At 5.00pm the JSE all-share index was up 0.56% at 35‚743.23 points‚ with the gains in the resource and gold sectors‚ up 1.26% and 2.22% respectively.

At 16.48pm the Dow Jones Industrial index was up 0.27% at 13‚200.81 points after the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported its business index at -7.1‚ better than the -12.9 reading in July but below the expectation of -6.5.

Also the number of US workers filing applications for jobless benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 366‚000‚ a fraction worse than estimates of 365‚000. However‚ the overall trend for claims suggested the labour market was improving‚ Dow Jones Newswires reported. Meanwhile US home building slipped in July after a strong gain in June while new permits rose to their highest level in four years‚ a possible sign of confidence for construction going forward.

Among local resources and gold counters that showed gains were Anglo American (AGL) adding R2.62‚ or 1.04%‚ to R254.44‚ BHP Billiton (BIL) gaining R3.72‚ or 1.49%‚ to R254.18 and Anglogold Ashanti (ANG) adding R7.67‚ or 2.76%‚ to R285.77. ArcelorMittal (ACL) grew 89 cents‚ or 2.00%‚ to R45.50 and Kumba Iron Ore (KIO) was up R6.99‚ or 1.31%‚ to R541.99.

Among the companies in focus‚ miner Lonmin closed R6.63‚ or 7.34%‚ lower at R83.70. An attempt by the police on Thursday to disperse striking workers at Lonmin’s troubled Marikana mine ended in a shootout between the two groups. A Sapa reporter at the scene said he counted 18 bodies lying next to the nearby Wonderkop squatter camp. The shooting lasted about three minutes.

Media group Avusa (AVU) was up R1.30‚ or 6.05%‚ to R22.80. Times Media Group's (TMG) bid for Avusa was successful after shareholders voted in favour of the deal on Thursday morning.

Cipla Medpro’s (CMP) share price was down 48 cents‚ or 5.80%‚ to R7.80. SA’s third biggest generic drug company still remained tight-lipped about the reasons for the suspension of its CEO Jerome Smith.

Standard Bank (SBK) lost R2.76‚ or 2.38%‚ to R113.43. The bank reported an 11% increase in headline earnings per share to R73.84 in the six months ended June 2012‚ from R66.37 a year ago.

Electrical wholesaler ARB Holdings (ARH) added 8 cents‚ or 1.90%‚ to R4.30. The company said its headline earnings per share were up 12%‚ with the group saying it remained ungeared‚ holding R180m in cash resources. - I-Net Bridge