Gold drags South Africa stocks trend lower in slow trade
JOHANNESBURG, Sept 23
JOHANNESBURG, Sept 23 (Reuters) - South African stocks inched lower ahead of a bank holiday on Tuesday but gold shares like Harmony were on the back foot as the spot price for bullion swayed on confusion over the outlook of U.S. monetary policy.
Bullion was down as much as 0.9 percent in earlier trade but recouped losses and turned positive in late trade.
Gold has lost more than a fifth of its value this year, driven largely by U.S. Federal Reserve hints that it may begin to cut back its $85 billion monthly bond-buying programme before the end of 2013. Uncertainty over the timing of the move has led to choppy trading.
Johannesburg's Top-40 index dropped 0.25 percent to 39,444.06 on Monday and the All-share was down 0.17 percent to 44,017.73. South African markets will be closed on Sept. 24 to mark Heritage Day.
"People are not aggressively taking any position ahead of the holiday tomorrow," said Henre Herselman, a derivatives trader at Nedbank Private Wealth.
The gold mining index shed 0.4 percent led by Harmony Gold, which was down 3.5 percent. Smaller producer DRDGold lost 4.5 percent to 5.55 rand.
Gold Fields went against the grain and added 2.4 percent after Citigroup raised its rating to "neutral", from "sell".
Telkom SA also benefitted from a positive rating, rising 1.5 percent after JP Morgan named also gave it a "neutral" from "underweight".
Trade was relatively dull with only 103 million shares changing ownership, according to preliminary bourse data. Advancers led decliners 152 to 134, while another 56 were flat. (Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; editing by David Dolan)
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