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

The JSE closed in positive territory on Wednesday‚ buoyed by platinum stocks due to continued buying interest in the sector after its labour woes of last year.

The all-share index was also underpinned by luxury goods group Richemont (CFR) following an upgrade by Credit Suisse of the company to “outperform” from “neutral”‚ with the financial institution citing improvement in macro-economic indicators globally‚ especially in China‚ leading to the upgrade.

At 5pm‚ the all share index closed 0.44% higher at 40‚330.44 points‚ with the top 40 index gaining 0.49% to 35‚808.50 points. The platinum index gained 2.62% and resources were up 0.74%.

“The platinum sector is stronger today on continued buying interest for the last month or so after labour woes in the industry last year reduced value in this sector‚” a local trader said.

Barclays Bank said in a global report on Wednesday that risk appetite remained restrained with subpar data out of the US and euro area.

“Although the index of small business optimism edged up in the US‚ it was only a modest rebound following the sharp previous decline and likely reflected concerns about the fiscal cliff negotiations. However‚ such measures and broader risk sentiment are unlikely to rebound in the next round of government bargaining over the debt ceiling and spending sequestration looming‚” the bank said.

Leading European stock exchanges were in positive territory in late trade on Wednesday‚ after a good start to the US fourth quarter corporate earnings period. The FTSE 100 in London was 0.83% higher at 6‚103.71 points at 4.53pm local time.

US stocks opened higher after Alcoa kicked off the latest earnings-reporting season with strong revenues and an optimistic outlook‚ Dow Jones Newswires reported. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.46% firmer at 13‚389 points at 4.53pm local time.

Alcoa rallied 1.3% after the world's largest aluminum producer reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings that matched estimates and revenue that was well above forecasts. The company also said it expects the pace of aluminum demand growth in 2013 to increase from 2012.

On the local front‚ Anglo American (AGL) slipped 0.16% to R280.64 after gaining 1.57% on Tuesday on the announcement that Mark Cutifani had been appointed as its new CE; rival BHP Billiton (BIL) added 1.29% to close at R299.

Among platinum counters Impala Platinum (IMP) jumped 3.16% to R171.24‚ Anglo American Platinum (AMS) added 2.58% to R477 and Aquarius Platinum (AQP) surged 4.10% to R8.88.

Richemont (CFR) leapt 3.75% to R71.62‚ an all-time high‚ on the Credit Suisse upgrade. Vodacom (VOD) gave up 2.97% at R123‚ after Vodafone‚ its majority stakeholder‚ released softer than expected results on Wednesday. Blue Label Telecoms (BLU) gained 2.05% to close at R8.98.

Hulamin (HLM) jumped 4.99% to close at R3.58. - I-Net Bridge