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

Johannesburg - South African stocks ended lower for the second straight session on Wednesday, with gold mining shares among the biggest decliners as the price of bullion slid to its lowest in more than three months.

Industry leader AngloGold Ashanti declined 2.8 percent to 160.86 rand, while Harmony Gold tumbled 4.1 percent to 28.82 rand and Gold Fields lost 3.1 percent to 38.05 rand.

Investors have become increasingly bearish, believing the market's recent strong run - the main indices hit several records highs this month - was not justified by corporate earnings prospects.

“If you look at what's been happening in our economy with the strikes and some uncertainty around the elections, we've done extremely well but the markets are stretched,” said Patrice Rossou, head of equities at Sanlam Investment Management.

The JSE All-share index fell 0.27 percent to 49,690.58 and the benchmark Top-40 index was off 0.28 percent at 44,732.26.

Platinum shares were also under pressure after the newly appointed mining minister said talks to end the four-month wage strike in the world's top producer of the white metal have broken down.

Among gainers, Tiger Brands was up 1.6 percent to 296.83 after brokerage Credit Suisse raised its ratings of consumer foods maker to 'neutral' from 'underperform'.

Private hospital firm Netcare gained 1.1 percent to 28.52 rand after Goldman Sachs started research coverage of the company with a 'buy' rating.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 156 to 158, according to preliminary bourse data, with an average 171 million shares changing hands. - Reuters