The JSE. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

The JSE closed firmer on Tuesday in line with world markets‚ despite quiet trade and low volumes‚ with banks and financials leading the upside.

“We have had a quiet session today but this is not only a local occurrence; last night the US had volumes worth US$13bn‚ the slowest trading day for the year so far‚” said Francois Venter‚ equity dealer at Investec Asset Management in Cape Town.

“There is a low volume vacuum with no major company results or economic data ... we have nothing to follow. It is also the middle of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer holidays with not too many traders at their desks‚” he said.

“Financials and banks traded higher today after they underperformed at the end of last week. It is a catch-up situation. We have been at almost all-time highs every day the last couple of days on low volumes‚” he added.

At 5pm the JSE all-share index was up 0.41% to 35‚564.34 points‚ with banks and financials adding 1.12% and 0.86% respectively.

Meanwhile US stocks opened higher on Tuesday on the back of a better-than-forecasted reading on retail sales in four months and a modest rise in the producer price index. At 4.53pm the Dow Jones Industrial index was up 0.25% to 13‚201.76 points. European markets were also broadly higher with the London FTSE 100 last seen up 0.50%.

US July retail sales increased more than expected‚ while the eurozone economy contracted 0.2% in the second quarter‚ and output fell 0.4% year on year.

US retail sales improved for the first time in four months in July‚ increasing 0.8% to a seasonally adjusted $403.93 billion‚ putting a damper on expectations for more monetary easing from the US Federal Reserve‚ Dow Jones Newswires reported.

Separately‚ the producer price index‚ a measure of how much wholesalers and manufacturers pay for finished goods‚ rose modestly for the second month in a row‚ though this showed inflation was likely under control.

The eurozone economy contracted 0.2% in the second quarter‚ and was only saved from worse by resilient growth of 0.3% in Germany in the second quarters. France stagnated for a third straight quarter. Growth in Germany and stagnation in France — performances that were both better than economists had expected — prevented a steeper decline in eurozone output in the period.

Local big movers were Lonmin (LON)‚ down R3.40‚ or 3.60%‚ to R91.13. The world’s third-largest platinum miner is grappling with a possible turf war between two rival unions‚ which has left at least nine people‚ including two policemen‚ dead.

Aquarius Platinum (AQP) lost 12 cents‚ or 2.47%‚ to R4.74 and Northam Platinum (NHM) shed 31 cents‚ or 1.19%‚ to R25.79.

Uranium One (UUU) closed 55 cents‚ or 3.06%‚ stronger at R18.50. The miner on Tuesday reported total attributable production during the second quarter of this year of 3.0 million pounds - 28% higher than the 2.4 million pounds produced during the second quarter of last year.

Eastern Platinum (EPS) closed unchanged at R1.49. The miner on Tuesday reported a widening in its losses for the quarter ended June to a loss of US$0.09 from a loss of $0.01 a year ago.

Among banks and financials‚ Nedbank (NED) was up R2.62‚ or 1.43%‚ to R185.59 and RMB Holdings (RMH) added 72 cents‚ or 1.91%‚ to R38.37‚ while Santam (SNM) closed 25 cents softer at R176.00. The insurer said on Tuesday it expected its earnings and headline earnings per share for the six months ended June 2012 to be 25% to 35% below those reported for the prior corresponding period. - I-Net Bridge