The JSE retreated on Wednesday as it tracked weaker global sentiment which was ignited by Donald Trump's threats of additional tariffs if no deal is reached in the current talks with China.
Trump's comments were much anticipated on Tuesday given the rally recorded last week on the back of Chinese led comments about a potential roll back on tariffs if trade talks go well. Market participants were also anticipating Fed chair, Jerome Powell's testimony at Congress which is expected at 18:00.
The Fed chairman reiterated that the Fed's current policy is appropriate although prior noted risks remain. Concerns over the Hong Kong unrest also continue to deter markets particularly in Asia.
Locally, focus was on the release of South Africa's retail sales numbers for the month of September. The data mostly disappointed as retail sales Year-on-Year only expanded by 0.2%, widely missing a forecast of 2.0%. Retail sales Month-on-Month advanced 0.5% barely missing an estimate of 0.6%.
The rand came under pressure as a result of this data as it reached a session low of R15.00/$. At 17:00, the rand was trading 0.4% weaker at R14.99/$.
Following the prior session's rally, Telkom [JSE:TKG] came relinquished most of those gains as it closed 5.38% lower at R62.58. Blue Label Telecoms [JSE:BLU] which also had a surge on Tuesday, fell 4.27% to close at R2.69. Index heavyweight Naspers [JSE:NPN] came under considerable pressure as it lost 2.25% to end the day at R2106.53, while Prosus [JSE:PRX] fell 2.36% to close at R994.00.
Financials hit a snag on the back of the weaker rand which saw declines being recorded for FirstRand [JSE:FSR] which dropped 1.96% to close at R67.53, while Standard Bank [JSE:SBK] lost 1.07% to close at R174.85.
Other significant losers on the day included Brait [JSE:BAT] which fell 3.78% to close at R16.31, Multichoice Group [JSE:MCG] which lost 2.43% to close at R125.50, and Vodacom Group [JSE:VOD] which closed at R133.53 after losing 1.27%.
Harmony Gold [JSE:HAR] was buoyed by the release of a positive operational update which showed higher production and lower costs. The stock rallied 8.01% to close at R49.08. Other gold miners also recorded gains on the day which saw stocks such as DRD Gold [JSE:DRD] surge 6.36% to close at R6.69, and AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG] gained 5.15% to close at R297.50.
The Spar Group [JSE:SPP] bucked the downward trend recorded in other retailers as it was buoyed by the release of its full-year results which showed decent increases in earnings and turnover. The stock closed 5.55% to close at R209.00. Coal miner Exxaro Resources [JSE:EXX] added 3.83% to close at R130.00, while Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] rose 3.77% to close at R382.32.
Spar gets a boost from strong sales at Tops
The JSE All-Share index eventually closed 0.26% weaker while blue-chip JSE Top-40 index shed 0.19%. The resources index managed to gain 0.95%, while the industrials and financials indices shed 0.67% and 0.82% respectively.
Brent crude held steady as it was recorded trading 0.34% firmer at $62.27/barrel just after the JSE close.
At 17:00, palladium was up 0.62% at $1710.25/Oz, platinum was 0.31% firmer at $871.90/Oz, and gold had risen 0.46% to trade at $1463.71/Oz.