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

The JSE was softer at noon on Friday tracking global sentiment weaker as negative headlines about the US fiscal cliff issue sparked a sell-off in the US‚ Asia and Australia‚ which has filtered through to our market.

Platinums led the downside‚ followed by banks‚ both of which had good rallies recently.

At 12.25pm‚ the all share index was down 0.36% to 39‚078.98‚ with the top-40 index losing 0.41% to 34‚655.39 points.

Platinums gave back 0.68%‚ on a weaker platinum price‚ and banks declined 0.67%.

For this month‚ platinums and banks are up 11% and 9% respectively while the all-share index is up 2.59%.

“The S&P futures in the US are 1.5% softer at the moment the local market is pricing that in. Volumes are subdued today after increased trade activity yesterday (R26bn) due to futures close-out‚” said Satish Gosai‚ head of trading at Kagiso Asset Management in Cape Town.

“Negative sentiment across global markets has put the JSE under a bit of pressure today‚ but the market is being cushioned by the weaker rand. The rand has weakened by just over 1% from yesterday due to today’s risk-off environment across global markets‚” he said.

“According to US reports‚ talks about the US fiscal cliff will now only resume after Christmas‚ after the Republicans‚ on Thursday‚ failed to vote for John Boehner’s proposed tax plan. Discussions will continue but at this stage the negotiations have had a setback‚” he said.

Leading European markets were softer amid new concerns about the unresolved looming US fiscal cliff‚ with the FTSE 100 index 0.89% weaker at 12.10pm local time.

On the JSE‚ Anglo American (AGL) shed 1.44% to R257.45 and BHP Billiton (BIL) dipped 0.71% to R295.88.

Northam Platinum (NHM) shed 2.72% to R36.77 and Lonmin (LON) lost 3.16% to R39.22.

Banking counter Standard Bank (SBK) was 0.39% softer at R118.80 and Investec Ltd (INL) lost 1.35% to R57.66‚ after both made good gains on Thursday. - I-Net Bridge