The JSE ended slightly weaker for the second day in a row on Thursday, after being dragged down by diversified resource miners Anglo American (AGL) and BHP Billiton (BHP).
However, an in-principle undertaking from the leadership of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union to end industrial action that began on January 23 gave some hope to the platinum sector.
The JSE all share was down 0.12% to 50 596.17 points, with the blue-chip top 40 losing by the same margin. Resources lost 1.21%.
Morgan Stanley cut price targets and earnings estimates for some of the big-cap mining stock, which included Anglo American (AGL).
“We have seen better level of trades coming through the market today compared to the anaemic levels we have seen recently,” Regenesys Investments CEO Devin Shutte said.
“The possibility of a resolution on the platinum sector strike has brought buyers back into those counters, but the market is nervous ahead of the spectre of a possible ratings downgrade on Friday,” Mr Shutte added.
Two international ratings agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, release their credit ratings update for South Africa and expectations are mounting that the news out of South Africa is so negative that a ratings downgrade is the only likely outcome.
European markets were little changed in late trade, with London’s FTSE 100 flat 0.06% while the Dow Jones industrial average was off 0.27%.
Among individual shares on the JSE, Anglo American (AGL) dropped 2.85% to R254.71, with BHP Billiton (BIL) losing 1.69% to R334.84.
Kumba Iron Ore (KIO) was off 2.14% to R336, with Exxaro (EXX) giving up 1.04% to R140.50.
Gold Fields (GFI) was down 1.70% to R38.85.
Northam Platinum (NHM) gave up 2.13% to R46, but Lonmin (LON) surged 7.90% to R45.88 amid hopes of an end to a platinum strike.
“It’s a big relief for Lonmin in particular. Implats and Amplats had strong balance sheets to see them through this crisis,” BP Bernstein Stockbrokers portfolio manager Makwe Masilela.
Nedbank (NED) firmed 1.97% to R234.33, with African Bank Investments (ABL) recovering 1.10% to R7.35.
Truworths (TRU) fell 1.30% to R75, with Pick n Pay (PIK) losing 1.11% to R57.81.