Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

THE JSE turned positive at the close on Friday on rising platinum and resources stocks, offsetting weaker banking and financial shares.

The JSE was weaker or flat for most of the day, with the all share showing little strength in intraday trade following the European Central Bank’s (ECB) stimulus measures announced on Thursday.

At 5pm the all share closed 0.40% higher at 51,739.80 points and the blue-chip top 40 rose 0.47%. Platinums were up 4.44% and resources had lifted 1.03%. The property index had risen 1.11%, while banks and financials dropped 0.38% and 0.15%, respectively.

The JSE was down 0.88% on the week, though it had gained 4.7% to date in March. It is 2.06% higher for the year.

The JSE found support from higher European markets with the FTSE 100 gaining 1.79% at the JSE’s close. The Paris CAC 40 rose 3.14% and the DAX rose 3.31%. The Dow Jones industrial average opened 1% firmer.

Barclays Research described the ECB step as bold. It announced a package to ease monetary policy after forecasts had shown the inflation outlook had materially deteriorated since December. The measures exceeded expectations, but the decision to shift the focus from rate cuts to quantitative and credit easing initially failed to convince markets, Barclays said.

A Stanlib economist, Kevin Lings, said these measures might not be all that effective in weakening the euro or stimulating real economic activity. This was mainly because, fundamentally, the eurozone did not have a liquidity problem.

"Instead it had a confidence problem, which would probably require additional fiscal stimulus rather than further monetary stimulus," Mr Lings said.

Local focus was on Old Mutual and Nedbank, of which Old Mutual owns 54%.

Old Mutual said that following a strategic review, its four principal businesses — Emerging Markets, Nedbank, Old Mutual Wealth and OM Asset Management plc — would be set apart from one another to protect the long-term interests of the group.

"The precise means by which this managed separation of the group would be effected is yet to be determined, and would involve significant … regulatory and stakeholder engagement," said Old Mutual.

Nedbank ended the day 3.86% down at R174.01. Old Mutual was 3.15% lower at R40.

BHP Billiton added 1.19% to R177.54.

After initially firming African Rainbow Minerals dropped 2.56% to R100.36. The diversified company controlled by mining magnate Patrice Motsepe said on Friday it would review unprofitable operations, after all its units except its steel and commodities division suffered half-year losses. Earnings excluding one-time items for the six months ended December 31 fell 51% to R507m from a year before.

Among platinum stocks Lonmin lifted 12.90% to R33.25. Impala Platinum was 5.65% higher at R49.76.

Mr Price shed 3.16% to R169.06.

Among property stocks, Redefine was 3.31% up at R11.54. Growthpoint was 0.85% higher at R25 despite being placed under review for a downgrade by ratings agency Moody’s on the day.

Tiger Brands was 2.93% off at R316.25.