The Johannesburg Stock Exchange. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko
JOHANNESBURG - Bourse heavyweight Naspers and retailer Mr Price helped push stocks to new record highs yesterday, while the rand weakened in line with other emerging market currencies.

The benchmark JSE Top40 index added 0.5percent to close at a high of 53832.9 points, while the broader all share index gained 0.35percent to close at a record of 60182.6 points.

Naspers, which holds a 33percent stake in Hong Kong listed Tencent, rose 2.57percent to R3632.65 buoyed by gains in the Chinese gaming giant.

“Tencent was up 3 percent in Hong Kong so it was inevitable Naspers would follow this afternoon,” said Cratos Capital equities trader, Greg Davies.

Mr Price topped the list of gainers on the blue chip index, up 8.61percent to R192.25, after it flagged higher half year earnings.

Cement maker PPC rose 1.4% to R7.22 after saying it expected an increase of as much as 40 percent in half year profit.

On the currency market, the rand lost 0.6% against the dollar to trade at R14.18.

However, at 5pm, the rand bid at R14.1716 to the greenback, 1.67c firmer than at the same time on Monday.

Halen Bothma, an economist at ETM Analytics, said dollar strength was the main factor at play but traders were also unnerved by local media reports about possible increased public spending on free education.

“The fragile domestic backdrop is not very supportive, and it’s hard to see where the rand can find support in the near term,” Bothma said.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 was up 3.5 basis points to 9.225percent.

Meanwhile, all three major global indices hit record levels in early trading yesterday as healthcare stocks rose on robust earnings and investors remained upbeat about a cut in corporate taxes.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 33.59 points, or 0.14percent, at 23582.01 points, the Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 3.99 points, or 0.15%, at 2595.12 points. The Nasdaq Composite was up 2.59 points, or 0.04%, at 6789.02 points. Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the health index’s 0.34percent rise leading the advancers.