The JSE board at Sandton, Johannesburg. Photo: Leon Nicholas

The JSE opened higher on Friday, bouncing back a touch from the sell-off activity on Thursday, and ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke later in the day.

A local trader said that a choppy day is expected within a tight range. News of a possible German downgrade shook investors somewhat on Thursday, and poor US jobless data did nothing to help sentiment. The local market is shaking off some of the negatives that had sent it down on Thursday, he said.

By 09:14 local time, the JSE all-share index was up 0.38%, with the gold index up 2.07%. Platinum counters gained 0.66%, while industrials lifted 0.37%. Banks made 0.66% and financials picked up 0.35%. The resources index was up 0.47%.

The rand was bid at 7.21 to the dollar, from 7.22 at the JSE's close on Wednesday. Gold was trading at US$1,777.05 a troy ounce from US$1,737.15 at the JSE's previous close, while platinum was at US$1,821.50/oz, from US$1,814.50/oz previously.

Dow Jones Newswires reported that European stocks are expected to start mixed and the session will likely be volatile as investors wait nervously for Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke to speak at the Jackson Hole economic symposium at 16:00 SA time on Friday.

Markets have increasingly been expecting Bernanke to announce or even hint at some intervention into the US economy, following several weeks of disappointing economic data.

Several European governments extended their ban on short selling of financial shares late Thursday. Spain, Italy and France are extending restrictions which would have ended at the close of business Friday. But German officials denied they would be joining in and introducing bans on short selling as did the UK regulator.

Asian stocks were mixed on Friday. At local time, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was 0.29% higher and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down 0.16%.

In Tokyo, stocks and the yen shrugged off news that Prime Minister Naoto Kan had announced his resignation as head of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan on Friday, with traders saying the move was widely-expected.

On the JSE, Anglo American (AGL) shed 6 cents to 272 rand, while BHP Billiton (BIL) gained 4 cents to 229.49 rand and Sasol (SOL) collected 1.65 rand to 308.25 rand.

Among gold shares, Anglogold Ashanti (ANG) rose 6.52 rand or 2.07% to 322.02 rand and Gold Fields (GFI) lifted 1.85 rand or 1.62% to 115.84 rand.

Harmony (HAR) was up 2.32 rand or 2.57% to 92.52 rand.

Among platinum stocks, Anglo American Platinum (AMS) was 3.50 rand lower at 558.83 rand but Impala Platinum gathered 3.48 rand or 2.10% to 168.98 rand. Northam Platinum (NHM) was down 40 cents, or 1.18%, to 33.60 rand.

Kumba Iron Ore (KIO) lifted 6.91 rand or 1.57% to 447.94 rand.

In the telecoms sector, Altech (ALT) dropped 1.05 rand, or 1.75%, to 58.95 rand.

Amongst the retailers, Shoprite (SHP) garnered 1.45 rand, or 1.42% to 103.75 rand, and Woolworths (WHL) picked up 37 cents, or 1.13% to 32.97 rand. - I-Net Bridge