The JSE. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

The JSE remained softer at noon on Thursday amid some profit taking‚ and ahead of today’s futures closeout‚ which usually brings with it volatility in share prices‚ and a spike in trading volumes.

Closeouts are the dates when futures contracts are settled‚ with players placing their bets on the market's future direction.

At 12:00 local time‚ the JSE all-share index was down 0.35% to 34‚665.62 points‚ with resources losing 1.28%‚ but gold shares lifting 1.21% and platinum counters dropping 0.92%.

Financials edged up 0.14%‚ while banking stocks and industrials were both flat (0.01%).

The rand was trading at 8.23 to the US dollar‚ from 8.18 at the JSE's close on Wednesday‚ while gold was quoted at US$1‚599.35 a troy ounce from US$1‚601.48/oz at the JSE's previous close and platinum was at $1‚459.50/oz‚ from $1‚466.20/oz previously.

“One doesn’t want to read too much into this pullback given the strong run we have had over the past two days and this is notwithstanding China’s weak manufacturing data‚ which continues to weigh on mining stocks‚” said Ferdi Heyneke‚ portfolio manager at Afrifocus Securities.

US stock-market futures pointed to a lower open for Wall Street as investors continued to express some disappointment that the Federal Reserve chose only to extend its bond-buying programme‚ while weak China data also weighed on sentiment‚ Dow Jones Newswires reported.

Asia and European markets were weaker across the board‚ after China manufacturing activity dropped to a seven-month low‚ according to preliminary HSBC data.

A gauge of June business activity in the eurozone remained near the prior month's 35-month low‚ according to results of a preliminary Markit survey.

In Europe‚ London’s FTSE was down 0.45% at about noon local time.

In Asia‚ the Hang Seng index finished the session 1.30% lower.

On the JSE‚ Anglo American (AGL) was down R5.10‚ or 1.79%‚ to R279.32‚ BHP Billiton (BIL) slipped R3.39‚ or 1.40%‚ to R238.65 and Sasol (SOL) lost R9.39‚ or 2.48%‚ to R369.89.

AngloGold Ashanti (ANG) was up R3.49‚ or 1.16%‚ to R305.23‚ Gold Fields (GFI) lifted R1.49‚ or 1.34%‚ to R112.74 and Harmony Gold Mining (HAR) gained R1.13‚ or 1.33%‚ to R85.78.

In platinum stocks‚ Northam Platinum (NHM) dipped 60 cents‚ or 2.23%‚ to R26.30 and Aquarius Platinum dropped 76 cents‚ or 9.56%‚ to R7.19. The platinum producer placed its Everest mine on care and maintenance with effect from Thursday.

Aquarius noted that the ramp-up at Everest had encountered challenges resulting from poor ground conditions and ongoing disruptive industrial relations over an extended period and these issues‚ coupled with the present low platinum group metal price environment‚ had rendered the mine uneconomic.

Among other miners‚ Exxaro (EXX) lost R3.69‚ or 1.77%‚ to R204.72.

In industrials‚ BAT (BTI) was up R5.27‚ or 1.27%‚ to R420.27.

In telecoms‚ Vodacom (VOD) shed 99 cents‚ or 1.06%‚ to 92.50.

Avusa (AVU) was unchanged at R23.50. The media and entertainment group reported diluted headline earnings per share of 111 cents for the year ended March 2012‚ down 36% from a year ago’s 174 cents per share.

Revenue for the year grew 12% on the prior period to R5.96 billion‚ mainly as a result of the full-year inclusion of the Retail Solutions business unit. However‚ profit from operations declined to R273 million from R324 million and profit for the year declined to R169 million from R217 million. - I-Net Bridge