S.Africa stocks higher; caution ahead of earnings

Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:00pm EDT

* Top-40 rises 0.6 percent to 29,868.42

* All-share up 0.5 percent at 33,998.45

By Ed Stoddard

JOHANNESBURG, July 24 (Reuters) - South African stocks gained over half a percent on Tuesday, clawing back some of the previous session's steep losses, as investors cautiously waded back into the market ahead of a rush of corporate earnings.

Bullion heavyweights AngloGold Ashanti and Gold Fields both maintained a technical rally mobile operator MTN and others were lifted by investors searching for higher dividends.

No fireworks are expected in coming days as investors awaiting results including big banks such as Absa, whose first-half results are out Friday, and quarterly earnings from the big gold miners next month.

The JSE Top-40 index gained 0.63 percent to 29,868.42 and the broader All-share index added 0.54 percent to close the day at 33,998.45.

The sustainability of the rebound is unclear, with the immediate outlook clouded by technical signals.

The Top-40's 14-day RSI, a measure of momentum watched by technical analysts, is in the middle of oversold and overbought territory, meaning it is trending neutral with no clear short-term bias in either direction.

"It is trading in a range-bound manner and the RSI is flat-lining," said George Glynos, managing director of financial consultancy ETM.

However, top bullion producers AngloGold and Gold Fields maintained chart-inspired rallies after both strayed into or brushed oversold levels last week, according to their 14-day RSIs.

AngloGold rose 2.4 percent to 271.75 rand, building on Monday's rally of over 3 percent, while Gold Fields climbed 2.7 percent.

Spot gold prices swung back into positive territory on Tuesday as the dollar retreated from highs against the euro but the gains were a minimal 0.1 percent.

"Gold shares are picking up some support. They have been hammered over the last month or so and I have looked it on a technical basis and it looks like the gold index itself, not necessarily the dollar price itself, is starting to pick up," said Ferdi Heyneke, Portfolio Manager at Afrifocus Securities.

He saw other stocks lifted by dividend prospects such as MTN, which zipped up 2.92 percent.

"MTN continues to be moving up quite nicely still ... dividend yields are still good there and this is what investors are looking for."

MTN has a dividend yield of more than 5 percent, the third highest on the Top-40 index.

Base metal miner Assore was the biggest blue-chip gainer on the day, picking up over 3 percent.

Data on Tuesday revealed Europe's economic troubles caused a sharp slowdown in German factory activity, although an improvement in China's manufacturing sector supported oil and copper prices and was also bullish for base metals producers.

Trade was relatively slow, with 164 million shares changing hands on the JSE, compared with last year's daily average of 255 million shares. (Additional reporting by Sherilee Lakimidas; Editing by David Dolan)