#RandReport: SA stocks at 3-month high on commodities rally, rand weakens

The rand had fallen 0.6 percent to 15.6550 per dollar reversing a rally that sent the currency over 3% higher.

Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South African shares leapt to three-month highs on Thursday, tracking global markets as a recovery in commodities lifted risk appetite globally, but the rand fell on renewed bets of a rate hike in the United States.

Platinum producer Lonmin ended 24 percent firmer at 28 rand after it announced more than 5,000 workers had left the firm as the struggling firm attempts to restructure to cope with depressed prices.

Rival Impala Platinum's stock rose 15 percent to 44 rand, and global mining firm Anglo American advanced 7 percent to 119 rand.

"Commodities have certainly turned up. But we do need to still see metals prices continuing to support further recovery in some of these shares," said Afrifocus Securities portfolio manager Ferdi Heyneke.

Copper prices hit their highest in more than three months on Thursday, boosted by gains for equities, increased confidence in global growth prospects and a lower dollar. Other base metals also gained on growth and demand optimism.

The bourse was also boosted by advancing stock of Africa's biggest wireless firm, MTN Group, which made its biggest daily gain in more than seven years.

The stock pared gains to close 4 percent up at 141 rand after MTN surprised with a higher dividend and said $600 million had been set aside to cover a $3.9 billion Nigerian fine.

"The fact that they increased the dividend is a surprise because the market had expected them to cut it by maybe 50 percent," said one telecoms sector analyst, who asked not to be named. "The provision that they set aside also implies a smaller fine than people had anticipated," the analyst added.

The benchmark Top-40 index rose 1.5 percent to 45,946 points while the broader All-share index gained 1.6 percent to 51,787.

Trading was active with more than 300 million shares changing hands, compared to last year's daily average of 296 million shares, according to preliminary bourse data.

On the foreign exchange market, the rand had fallen 0.6 percent to 15.6550 per dollar by 1537 GMT, reversing a rally that had sent the currency more than 3 percent higher.

Yields on government bonds rose, with the benchmark paper due in 2026 adding 2 basis points to 9.375 percent.

According to a Reuters survey of economists, nonfarm payrolls due on Friday will likely show increased employment in the United States, a precursor for rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.