South African stocks ended slightly weaker on Tuesday, snapping a three-day winning streak, with retailers among the worst performers on worries about consumer spending and high personal debt levels.
JD Group fell the most on the bourse after the credit-based furniture retailer warned that it was likely to report profit loss due to bad debts. Its shares fell 6.3% to R25.40.
“The economy is battling a bit, all retailers reported disappointing numbers. With the consumer being squeezed more and more the question is when will they be unable to handle it and just start defaulting on loans?,” said Henre Herselman, a trader at Nedbank Private Wealth.
Although factory output improved in December, data showing unemployment remained stubbornly high reinforced views that the economy is not out of the woods yet.
The benchmark JSE Top-40 index was barely changed at 0.05% at 41 299.94. The broader All-Share index inched down 0.12% to 45 866.02.
Barclays Africa gained 2.77% to R127.5 after the British lender’s African unit lifted its annual profit thanks to a decline in bad loans.
Herselman said it remains to be seen whether the bank could manage its debt book after a recent hike in interest rates.
Tiger Brands lost 1.6% to R259.39 after the consumer foods maker warned of tough competition and rising input costs even as it reported a slight rise in quarterly sales.
Provisional bourse statistics show that 214 million shares were traded. Decliners outpaced advancers 173 to 131.