Filomena Scalise

Johannesburg - South African stocks ended slightly firmer on Monday, bouncing back from two straight sessions of decline, with Vodacom surging nearly five percent after flagging higher first-half profit.

Indices were further boosted by signs that workers in the mining industry were returning to work to end a wave wildcat strikes that have rocked the local mining industry.

Shares of Vodacom jumped 4.8 percent to 108.50 rand after the mobile phone operator said first-half profit likely rose by as much as 25 percent, helped partly by favourable tax change.

The benchmark JSE Top-40 index added 0.5 percent to 32,784.48, while the All-share index, the broadest measure of South African stock market performance, gained by a similar margin to 36,968.50.

“Not the greatest of days, it should have been a lot worse given what Wall Street did on Friday night,” said Nick Kunze, a director at Terrassen Capital Management in Johannesburg.

Kunze said the market was finding support but there was little positive impetus.

Wall Street stocks fell on Friday after disappointing results from Microsoft and Google, with shares of General Electric dropping nearly 3 percent after reporting improved profit but falling short of revenue estimates.

Other advancers boosting the Top-40 were the banks like First Rand up 2.48 percent to 27.69 rand, while rivals Nedbank and Standard Bank gained 2.04 percent and 1.8 percent respectively.

Foreign investors continue to favour the retail sector as a firmer rand also aided retailers like Woolworths adding 2.2 percent to 66.84 rand and South African supermarket chain, Shoprite up 2.1 percent to 182.63.

A total over 128 million shares changed hands, with 157 companies gaining ground and another 118 losing value while 80 were unchanged. - Reuters