SA stocks end lower, Truworths stumbles

Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine undermined demand for risky assets.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange in Sandton, Johannesburg. Picture: Craig Wynn/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South African stocks ended slightly lower on Friday as geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine undermined demand for risky assets, adding to growing worries about valuations.

Truworths headed the losers' list, tumbling 3,6 percent to R72 after the clothes retailer reported a slowdown in annual sales growth.

Overall, investors took their cue from falling overseas markets after a Malaysian airliner was downed near the Ukraine-Russia border and Israel stepped up a ground assault against Gaza militants.

Concerns that South African equities were overpriced after the main indices hit a chain of record highs also weighed on sentiment.

"I think the case is very strong for a pullback before the end of the quarter because the third quarter is historically volatile and weak," said Evan Giannakis, a trader at Imara SP Reid.

The JSE All-share index was down 0,18 percent at 51,695 and the blue-chip Top-40 index fell by the same margin to 46,558.

Alexander Forbes Preference Share Investment (Afpref) bucked the downward trend on the bourse, rising 6 percent to R8,80.

Afpref houses about 30 percent of soon-to-be-listed pension fund manager Alexander Forbes, which raised $347 million in an initial public offering on Friday.

Tsogo Sun gained 4, 65 percent after a major shareholder, SABMiller sold its $1 billion stake, a move that could spark a valuation re-rating of the tightly-held stock.

A total of 150 million shares changed hands, below last year's daily average of about 176 million shares. A total of 132 shares advanced, while 171 declined and 52 were unchanged.