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

Johannesburg - South African stocks inched higher on Wednesday after long-suffering platinum producers such as Anglo American Platinum recovered on hopes court-mediated talks may end a bruising industry strike.

Transport and heavy equipment group Barloworld was dragged down by weak global retail numbers from U.S manufacturer Caterpillar, which raised concerns about soft demand for earth-moving equipment.

Anglo American Platinum rose 1.6 percent 469.50 rand while fellow producer Lonmin surged 7.5 percent to 44.28 rand on hopes negotiations could put an end to South Africa's longest and costliest mining strike.

Traders said the shares also benefited after being sold in recent weeks.

“What you are seeing are some bargain hunters coming in and nibbling off from the bottom. From a technical point of view, Lonmin is probably in the oversold territory,” said Martin Lentsoane, a trader at Lehumo Capital.

The benchmark Top-40 index inched up 0.16 percent to 44,629.81, while the broader All-Share index edged up 0.06 percent to 49,648.12.

Barloworld, the sole dealer of Caterpillar's mining and construction machines in southern Africa, slumped 4.8 percent to 107.60 rand after earlier hitting a two-month low after Caterpillar reported a 13 percent drop in retail demand for machines.

Industrial equipment distributor Eqstra followed Barloworld down, shedding 3.3 percent to 7.15 rand.

Mediclinic gained 2 percent to 79.60 rand after the private hospital group reported a 46 percent rise in full-year profit as a weaker rand boosted overseas revenue.

A total of 178 million shares traded hands, according to preliminary data from the Johannesburg bourse, with 188 shares declining and 120 advancing. - Reuters