Miners lead South African stocks lower

Tue Mar 6, 2012 10:46am EST

Related Topics

* Blue chips in biggest fall in over 3 months

* Lonmin slides over 5 percent

By Ed Stoddard

JOHANNESBURG, March 6 (Reuters) - Miners such as Lonmin were felled by a slide in metal prices and led South African shares lower on Tuesday, with blue chips posting their biggest one-day loss in over 3 months.

The benchmark blue-chip Top-40 index shed 2.07 percent to 29,612.31, its biggest fall since late November, while the broader All-Share index gave up 1.89 percent to 33,387.04.

Global markets were down but Johannesburg was harder hit than most, as big resource shares were bled by dimming prospects for the global economy and demand for the key commodities that drive it.

European shares hit a one-week low and the euro fell as riskier assets also bore the brunt of fears that Greece may not be able to complete a major debt restructuring deal.

Gold prices fell 2 percent and platinum shed almost 3 percent, nearing $1,600 an ounce.

Lonmin, the world's third-largest platinum producer which was the worst performer among Johannesburg blue chips last year, plunged almost 5.50 percent.

Impala Platinum, the world no.2 producer, ended 2.70 percent lower at 158.81 rand, in some ways a victim of its own success this week as its key Rustenburg operation restarts after an illegal and violent 6-week strike.

"Besides the general decrease in prices of precious metals, the restart of production at the world's largest platinum mine - Rustenburg in South Africa - is weighing on the price," Commerzbank said in a note.

Among gold shares, AngloGold Ashanti, Africa's top bullion producer, lost 3.0 percent to finish at 300.10 rand while Harmony Gold ended about 2.25 percent lower.

Looking ahead, local analysts said U.S. employment data this week would be crucial, starting with the ADP employment report on Wednesday and the nonfarm payrolls data on Friday.

Nonfarm payrolls are expected to have increased 210,000 in February, according to a Reuters survey, after rising 243,000 in January. The unemployment rate is seen steady at a three-year low of 8.3 percent.

"The employment data on Friday is key and tomorrow there is the ADP. This could stop the aggressive selling if they in line with expectations or slightly better than expected," said Sasha Naryshkine, an analyst with Vestact in Johannesburg. (Editing by David Dolan)

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