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

Johannesburg - South African stocks were largely unchanged on Monday as a firmer rand led to a retreat by bullion stocks such as Gold Fields while market players bet equities would be boosted by Beijing speeding up reforms for China's slowing economy.

Gold mining firms, hit by falling spot prices and a troubled start to wage negotiations with unions, were among the biggest decliners on Johannesburg bourse.

The rand, which strengthened about 1 percent during the session, weighed on the companies that sell their products in dollars and pay expenses in the local currency.

Gold Fields led the decliners on the blue-chip index, falling 2.3 percent to 51.44 rand, while its bigger rival AngloGold Ashanti, Africa's top bullion producer, was down 1.6 percent to 125.42 rand.

Annual GDP growth for China - South Africa's biggest bilateral trade partner - slowed to 7.5 percent in April to June, putting pressure on Beijing to quicken reforms rather than slow them to take up the economic slack.

“During the course of the day, we started seeing a lot of stocks retreating mainly on the back of a firmer rand and a weaker gold price,” said Paul Chakaduka, a trader at Global Trader.

South Africa's benchmark Top-40 index fell 0.06 percent to 36,206.75, while the broader All-share index crept 0.01 percent higher to 40,740.14.

Platinum producer Anglo American Platinum led gainers after it forecast that first-half profit likely jumped by at least 75 percent thanks to a weakening rand over the past several months and higher sales.

A below average 110 million shares changed hands, according to preliminary bourse data.

Advancers outnumbered decliners at 153 to 136, with 55 stocks unchanged. - Reuters