Financial Mail - Investors Monthly - - Analysis - Maarten Mittner

an­uary was not a pos­i­tive month for US eq­uity mar­kets, as it re­mained un­clear when the US Fed­eral Re­serve would hike rates. The Dow Jones industrial av­er­age fell 3.69% and the S&P 500 lost 3.10%.

In con­trast, Euro­pean mar­kets had a good month in an­tic­i­pa­tion of stim­u­la­tory mea­sures in the eu­ro­zone, which were an­nounced at month-end. The Ger­man DAX was 9,06% up and the Paris CAC 40 gained 7,76% in Jan­uary. The UK FTSE 100 added 2,79%.

The JSE ben­e­fited from Europe’s uptick, gain­ing 3,22% af­ter a volatile De­cem­ber. The main driv­ers were fi­nan­cials and banks, with the Fini 25 in­dex gain­ing 4,29%. The re­sources sec­tor showed signs of re­vival, but an­a­lysts have cau­tioned it could be too early to plunge into the sec­tor as Chi­nese GDP growth is veer­ing struc­turally lower.

The JSE top 40 ended the month 2.76% higher and the industrial in­dex added 3,11%, mainly driven by Naspers, now third in mar­ket cap on the JSE af­ter Bri­tish Amer­i­can Tobacco and SABMiller.

Many in­vestors fo­cused on Sa­sol, which lost 50% in 2014 as global oil mar­kets fell. The price ended 0,22% up.

Emerg­ing mar­kets had a mixed and volatile month. Af­ter tum­bling ear­lier, the Rus­sian Micex re­cov­ered 18,20% in the month. The Brazil­ian Bovespa lost 6,20%. But global in­vestors re­acted favourably to the In­dian growth story and the NSE stock ex­change in­dex was 5,41% firmer.

The Brent crude price fell 9,28% in the month, but showed in­di­ca­tions of sta­bil­is­ing around $50 a bar­rel af­ter hit­ting a six-year low of $45 in De­cem­ber.

Gold stocks re­bounded in re­sponse to un­easi­ness about the loose mon­e­tary poli­cies of cen­tral banks. An­gloGold Ashanti was the star among the big­ger gold shares, gain­ing 39,28%.

The gold price firmed 7,65% and plat­inum rose 1,36%. But min­ing shares were the big losers on the JSE in Jan­uary. An­glo Amer­i­can lost 9,12% and Kumba Iron Ore shed 7,17%.

Naspers was up 13,68% and Medi­clinic gained 14,95%. Re­tail­ers did well be­cause the Re­serve Bank kept in­ter­est rates un­changed. Woolies added 12,43% and Mr Price 12,67%.

Rand hedges had a mixed month. Richemont lost 8,86%, but SABMiller firmed 3,93%.

Con­cerns over the global econ­omy did not have much im­pact against the rand. The lo­cal cur­rency was 0,58% stronger against the dollar in the month even though the dollar was nearly 7% stronger against the euro.

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