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

Johannesburg - South African stocks ended a see-saw session virtually unchanged on Friday, pulling back from record high set earlier in the day as investors digested the widely watched US jobs data.

But Sanlam, which posted a 39 percent jump in annual earnings this week, surged after several brokerages, including Barclays Capital, gave upbeat comments about its prospects.

Shares in the nation's biggest insurer climbed 1.8 percent to 53.19 rand, making it the top gainer on Johannesburg's main stock index

Overall, investors were largely cautious as they digested the US jobs data that reassured them about the health of the world's biggest economy but also reinforced worries the US will rein its economic stimulus programme.

“This report is a pretty tough one to read. Job numbers are better than expected ... What's not in doubt is that the taper will continue as is” said Marcus Bullus, trading director of MB Capital.

The blue chip JSE Top-40 index inched down 0.07 percent at 43206.26, pulling back from a record high of 43,434.57.

The broader All-share index also edged down by the same margin to 47,786.77.

It set a record high 48,002.23.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 175 to 124 with 48 issues unchanged.

An average 170 million shares changes hands, according to preliminary bourse data. - Reuters