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

Johannesburg - South African stocks inched higher on Friday as shares of petrochemical group Sasol rose after escalating violence in Iraq drove oil prices higher.

Shares of fixed-line operator Telkom gained 1.16 percent to 42.63 rand, continuing a 50 percent gain so far this year, after reporting a 35 percent jump in full-year headline earnings.

The market was also closely watching developments in the platinum wage talks aimed at ending a crippling five-month strike that has battered a stuttering economy.

The leader of South Africa's Amcu union said on Friday a wage deal with the top three platinum producers was imminent, signalling a possible end to a strike that has disrupted global output of the metal.

“Until everything is signed, sealed and delivered with the strike you are going to see volatility,” said Ryan Woods, a trader at Independent Securities.

The benchmark Top-40 index inched up 0.47 percent to 45,803, while the broader All-Share index gained 0.33 percent to close at 50,764.

Sasol shares were up 4.3 percent to 645.10 rand.

The bourse brushed off the move by ratings agency Fitch to change its economic outlook from stable to negative, citing poor prospects for economic growth and rising public debt.

In a slow day of trading ahead of a bank holiday on Monday, about 137 million shares changed hands, with 161 stocks advancing while 152 declined. - Reuters