Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK
Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK

THE JSE closed lower on the first trading day of February as the market looked for direction amid lower European markets and weak Chinese data.

The all share opened 0.56% higher and dropped 1% in intraday trade before recovering towards the close.

European markets were lower despite final European purchasing managers index (PMI) data coming in mostly in line with expectations, and as further stimulus measures were expected to be announced by the European Central Bank next month.

In SA, the seasonally adjusted Barclays PMI fell two index points to 43.5 in January. This is more than five index points below the average level recorded in 2015.

In London, the FTSE 100 was 1.13% lower and the CAC 40 shed 1.12%. The DAX was 1.16% weaker.

Softer-than-expected Chinese manufacturing PMI data slowed a global rally earlier on Monday.

The Shanghai Composite index fell 1.8% after Chinese officials reported further weakness in the manufacturing sector, just shy of economists’ forecasts.

A private gauge of Chinese manufacturing edged slightly higher, but still pointed to contraction in the sector. China’s NBS manufacturing PMI was 49.4 in January and below expectations.

Global stocks also struggled for direction after solid gains at the end of last week following the Bank of Japan’s surprise decision to cut interest rates into negative territory, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

The Dow Jones industrial average opened 0.83% down after a strong performance on Friday.

At 5pm the all share had closed 0.18% lower at 49,055.50 points and the blue-chip top 40 lost 0.42%. Banks shed 1.02% and industrials lost 0.52%. The gold index gained 5.63% and platinums added 1.23%. Resources added 0.75%.

The all share fell 3.06% in January, mainly due to a retraction in industrial shares. Selected rand hedges pulled back in January after supporting the market in December, despite the 1.77% drop in the all share in the month.

The industrial index, in which most rand-hedges are classified, climbed 12.5% in December, but lost 3.96% in January.

Rand-hedge beer shares did well, with SABMiller up 2.05% in 2016 after rising 55% last year, but Naspers is down 7.9% so far this year and Richemont has lost 6.9%. Steinhoff is down 4.8% in 2016 and MTN has lost a further 4% this year after retracting 39.9% in 2015.

Banking shares pared some of the losses of last year, but were weaker again on Monday after ratings agency Moody’s said recent interest rate increases by the Reserve Bank, with more set to follow, would weaken banks’ asset quality.

After ending 2015 16.34% lower, the banking index has lost 1.38% so far this year. Financials ended 2015 flat but have been sold off so far in 2016 with the index 4.19% lower.

The top 10 resources index remains in the red, down 4.96% so far this year, but is an improvement on the 39.4% drop in 2015.

Among individual shares on the JSE, Anglo American lost 1.14% to R62.28, but rival BHP Billiton was up 0.43% to R153.06.

Sasol fell 1.98% to R409.72 due to a lower Brent oil price, which was down 2.73% to $34.90 a barrel in late afternoon trade.

Industrial group Bidvest closed 0.87% off at R361.56 after hitting a record high R368.69 on the day.

Among gold counters, Gold Fields jumped 9.96% to R58.61. Harmony lifted 8.38% to R31.54.

Standard Bank closed 1.22% weaker at R110.84.

Among retailers Clicks added 2.54% to R89.11. After a promising start in morning trade, Mr Price shed 3.20% to R158.

MTN was a casualty on the day, closing 8.96% lower at R127 amid Nigerian reports indicating MTN may close some of its operations in Nigeria.

Naspers shed 1.15% to R1,972.96.