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

Johannesburg - South African stocks halted their longest win streak in at least 11-1/2 years on Friday, after weak Chinese growth data prompted a sell-off in Richemont and other companies dependent on Asian revenues.

The benchmark Top-40 index fell 0.88 percent to 41,418.25, declining for the first time after ten straight days of gains.

This had been its longest positive run since as far back as at least June 2002, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Investors are now waiting to see whether corporate earnings in the new year will be able to keep pace with lofty prices that have made South Africa one of the world's most expensive emerging stock markets.

“When we look at forecasts for 2014, the earnings are still quite ambitious,” said Lavan Gopaul, chief investment officer at brokerage Trademar Futures.

“If some of these companies only miss slightly, it may be quite a negative for markets, because equity markets have currently swollen quite a bit.”

The broad All-Share index fell 0.82 percent to 46,206.09.

Both the Top-40 and the All-Share have logged a series of record closes in recent weeks, as investors have pushed exporters and other companies with overseas earnings higher on the back of the weaker rand currency.

The rand was near a five-year low on Friday, after shedding nearly 24 percent against the dollar in 2013, hit in part by nagging concerns over slow growth in Africa's largest economy.

But the benefits of the weaker rand for the equity market were overshadowed after official data showed growth in China's services sector fell to a four-month low in December.

Shares of Richemont, which is increasingly dependent on demand from China for sales of its Mont Blanc pens and Cartier watches, fell 1.9 percent to 104.99 rand.

E-commerce and media firm Naspers, which owns a stake in Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, dropped 1.9 percent to 1,08.75 rand.

Trade was slow, with 75 million shares changing hands, according to preliminary bourse data. - Reuters