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#RandReport: South African stocks post biggest daily fall in 14 months

Market-heavyweight Naspers continued its slide after Morgan Stanley cut its target price to R4,900 from R5,400 on Monday.

Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - South African stocks pulled back from record highs on Tuesday with the main index marking its biggest one-day percentage drop in 14 months, weighed down by Naspers, PSG and Capitec.

The rand reversed earlier gains in volatile trade.

Market-heavyweight Naspers continued its slide after Morgan Stanley cut its target price to R4,900 from R5,400 on Monday. The e-commerce and pay-TV firm closed 5.10% lower to R3,435.25.

That helped the Johannesburg All-Share index close down 2.07% to 59,546 points and the blue-chip JSE Top-40 index fall 2.16% to 52,700 points.

The All-Share had its biggest daily percentage decline since December 2016, while the Top-40 fell the most since Nov 2016.

“There’s a general sell-off in the market. Guys are just not interested in emerging markets as a whole,” said BP Bernstein equity trader Vasili Girasis.

Capitec Holdings earlier dropped as much as 25% after US firm Viceroy Research said the South African lender overstated its financial assets and income, claims which the bank rejected.

The bank pared losses to close 2.96% lower at R915.92 after the company, central bank and its top shareholder PSG Group rejected the claims.

PSG was down 7.81% to R236.

“The market fears Viceroy because they came out with interesting information on Steinhoff. They are yet to be proven but certainly it helped push the share price down,” said Cratos Capital equities trader Greg Davies.

On the foreign exchange market, the rand fell slightly in volatile trade, adding to losses from a day earlier that were driven by a stronger dollar.

At 1528 GMT, the rand was down 0.25% at 11.9800 to the US currency after trading slightly stronger for part of the day.

Investors were cautious as South African public utility Eskom, a company which international ratings agencies have called a threat to the country’s public finances, published delayed financial results.

Eskom on Tuesday flagged a 34% drop in profit in the first half of the financial year and described key ratios as “unsustainable”. But the new board said it was confident it would escape a liquidity crunch.

Halen Bothma at ETM Analytics said the Eskom headlines were positive in that they showed executives were focused on turning around the embattled utility.

Government bonds were little changed. The yield on the benchmark 2026 instrument was up less than 1 basis point at 8.565%.