Equity markets jittery ahead of Powell’s speech

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Cape Town – The JSE and European
equity markets were on edge ahead of the US Fed chair Jerome Powell’s speech
at Congress.

The JSE
traded softer on Thursday as direction was mainly derived from commodity
markets as well as the rand.

However, with the most recent sell-off emanating
from Powell’s testimony on Tuesday, market participants were focused
on the Fed governor’s testimony set to start at 17:00 CAT.

The rand
weakened against the greenback mainly because the US dollar extended its gains
against a basket of major currencies. The US dollar index peaked at an
intra-day high of 90.932 index points before retracing to trade at 90.883 index
points. The USD/ZAR weakened to a low of R11.94/$ and at 17:00 CAT it was trading
at R11.91/$.

JSE
equities were softer, but to a lesser extent compared to Wednesday. One of the
biggest losers on the day was Steinhoff [JSE:SNH] which lost 12.07% to close at
R5.10 per share. This was mainly on the back of the suspension of JSE listed
notes issued by Steinhoff Services.

Other retailers traded under pressure
due to the weaker rand, which saw stocks such as Pick n Pay [JSE:PIK], Steinhoff
Africa Retail [JSE:SRR] and Woolworths [JSE:WHL] lose 4.62%, 4.18% and 1.93%
respectively.

Listed
property stocks Greenbay Properties [JSE:GRP] and Fortress B [JSE:FFB] shed 3.55%
and 4.88% respectively, whilst diversified miners BHP Billiton [JSE:BIL] and
Anglo American PLC [JSE:AGL] lost 2.92% and 2.94% respectively.

Ascendis
Health [JSE:ASC] was the standout performer on Thursday as it jumped 15.53% on the
back of an  impressive set of 6 months
earnings results.

SA Corp Real Estate [JSE:SAC] which came under significant
pressure on Wednesday, recouped some of the losses as it ended the day 3.42%
firmer.

Capitec Holdings [JSE:CPI] led the blue chip counters to end the day up
2.25%, whilst GrowthpointProperties [JSE:GRT] and Shoprite [JSE:SHP] gained 1.73%
and 1.20% respectively. Tiger Brands [JSE:TBS] added 1.00% whilst Naspers
[JSE:NPN] gained 0.70%.

The JSE
All-Share Index closed 0.69% weaker whilst the JSE Top-40 Index lost 0.72%. The
Financials Index surprisingly closed in the green as it gained 0.25%. However
the Industrials and Resources indices lost 0.42% and 2.73% respectively.

Gold came
under pressure due to the stronger US dollar to reach an intra-day low
$1 304.76/Oz. This dragged JSE listed gold miners such as Harmony Gold [JSE:HAR] and Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] which lost 2.67% and 0.76% respectively. At 17:00 CAT
Gold was trading at $1 306.23/Oz.

Palladium
took quite a tumble as it slid more than 4% from Thursday’s high of $1 045.80/Oz to
reach an intra-day low of $997.51/Oz. Platinum slid more than 2% to reach an
intra-day low $961.65/Oz and just after the close it was trading at $962.51/Oz.
Palladium was trading at 998.50/Oz just after the close, and it looked set to
come under some more pressure.

Brent Crude
held steady earlier on but it subsequently slipped below $64/barrel to reach a
day’s low of $63.37/barrel. The commodity was trading at $63.63/barrel just
after the close.

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