#RandReport: Gold firms lead SA stocks higher, rand firms

SA stocks ended higher today with gold producers among the top gainers after a breakthrough in the sector.

South African rand.  Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - South African stocks ended higher on Friday with gold producers among the top gainers after the biggest gold mineworkers union accepted a pay offer while a rebound in the price of the yellow metal added to the bullish sentiment.

The rand also firmed against the dollar following poorer-than-expected US jobs numbers which weakened the case for a rise in Federal Reserve's interest rates this year.

The National Union of Mineworkers, which represents the majority of workers in the gold mining industry, accepted the latest pay offer from employers on Friday, possibly averting a potentially crippling strike in the sector grappling with rising costs and weak prices.

A rival union has however yet to accept the offer.

In reaction, shares in AngloGold Ashanti advanced 2.8 percent to 116.19, rival Harmony added 2.11 percent to 8.73 rand and Sibanye Gold picked up almost a percent to 16.62 rand. The shares were also helped by 2 percent gain in the price of the precious metal.

Overall, traders took their cue from tentative gains in other emerging markets after economic data in the United States raised doubts about this year's interest rates hike in the world's biggest economy.

The benchmark JSE Top-40 index was up 0.92 percent to 45,668 and the broader All-share index was up 0.87 percent at 50,956 points.

On the foreign exchange market, the rand was volatile shortly after the release of the US jobs data as investors juggled signs of a weak global economy with relief that the Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise interest rates this year.

"It's all to do with whether the market chooses to focus on lower rates for longer as a positive for EM or whether a poorly performing US economy is pushing the world's growth to the brink and that is bad for EM," Warrick Butler a chief currency trader at Standard Bank told Reuters.

The non-farm jobs number showed hiring of just 142,000 in September, short of a consensus forecast of 203,000, while August figures were revised sharply lower to show only 136,000 jobs were added in August.

Yields on government bonds were mixed, with the benchmark 2026 issue shedding 1.5 basis point to 8.320 percent.