South African Stocks Inch Up Ahead of Fed, Standard Bank Rallies

South Africa’s main stock index inched higher on Wednesday, erasing an early dip, as gains by Sasol Ltd. and Standard Bank Ltd. battled weakness in gold and iron ore miners as well as in British American Tobacco.

The benchmark remained in a tight range, up 0.2% at 10:15 a.m. in Johannesburg, as investor focus switches to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy meeting later on Wednesday.

“A dovish stance is expected, and largely priced in,” Bianca Botes, executive director at Peregrine Treasury Solutions, said in an emailed note. “The market will, however, be looking for an indication of further stimulus by the Fed in the future.”

  • Gauge for bank stocks rises 0.2% as the rand strengthens ahead of the Fed
  • “Volatility is likely to be limited today in front of the Fed, with potential large moves thereafter,” Matete Thulare, analyst at Rand Merchant Bank, said in a note.
    • Standard Bank Group Ltd. +2.6%; lender says first-half profit fell as much as 50% as the fallout from the coronavirus hit customers of Africa’s largest bank
    • “Some investors will breathe a sigh of relief that the extent of the credit impairments is limited to a number slightly larger than GFC, rather than a multiple of it,” Citi analysts wrote in a note
    • FirstRand Ltd. +0.7%, Nedbank Group Ltd. +1.5%
  • Sasol Ltd. rises for the second day, up 3.8% to provide biggest boost to the index as company says it agreed to sell its 16 air-separation units to Air Liquide Large Industries South Africa Proprietary Ltd. in a deal that may raise 8.5 billion rand ($515 million).
  • The gauge for mining stocks falls for the second day, down 1% as iron ore producers and precious metals miners drag.
    • BHP Group Plc -1.1%, Anglo American Plc -0.9%, AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. -1.7%, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. -1.5%, Sibanye Stillwater Ltd. -1.1%, Gold Fields Ltd. -0.3%, Anglo American Platinum Ltd. -0.4%
  • British American Tobacco Plc falls 1.9%, biggest decline in one week, while heavyweights Cie Financiere Richemont SA falls 0.5%, and Naspers Ltd. retreats 0.1%
  • Foreigners were net buyers of South African stocks Tuesday, purchasing 766m rand worth of shares, according to index operator JSE Ltd.


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