Market Review

South African Markets

South African markets ended in the red yesterday, weighed down by losses in mining sector stocks and downbeat corporate earnings releases. The South African annual consumer price inflation eased to 5.4% in January. Dismal 1H13 results led BHP Billiton to drop 4.1%. AngloGold Ashanti retreated 3.6%, after the company reported a fall in its FY12 earnings. Other miners, DRDGold, Assore and Gold Fields declined 3.4%, 3.1% and 3.0%, respectively, tracking lower metal prices. Truworths International fell 1.0%, despite reporting strong 1H13 results. Rainbow Chicken slid 0.9%, after it announced a sharp fall in its 1H13 earnings. The JSE All Share Index fell 0.8% to close at 40,428.28.

UK Markets

UK markets ended in the green yesterday, as minutes of the Bank of England indicated that more policy members supported an increase in the asset purchase programme. Rexam surged 5.3%, after its FY12 profit exceeded market expectations. Banking sector stocks, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Lloyds Banking Group and HSBC Holdings jumped 2.6%, 0.8% and 0.6%, respectively, amid increased risk appetite amongst investors. Bucking the trend, RSA Insurance Group slumped 14.2%, after it reported a fall in its FY12 earnings and announced a cut to its dividend for 2013. Miners, Polymetal International and Kazakhmys retreated 3.9% and 3.6%, respectively, on lower metal prices. The FTSE 100 Index rose 0.3% to close at 6,395.37.

US Markets

US markets finished lower yesterday, as minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting suggested that the central bank might slow or stop buying bonds sooner-than-expected. Garmin tumbled 9.4%, following downbeat 4Q12 results. Toll Brothers slumped 9.1%, after its 1Q13 earnings trailed market forecasts. Caterpillar lost 2.5%, after it reported a drop in global retail machine sales for three months ended January 2013. Apple dropped 2.4%, after Foxconn Technology Group, the manufacturer of its products such as the iPhone and iPad, froze hiring across China. The S&P 500 Index retreated 1.2% to settle at 1,511.95, while the DJIA Index declined 0.8% to close at 13,927.54. The NASDAQ Composite Index dropped 1.5% to finish at 3,164.41.

Asian Markets

Asian markets are trading lower this morning, as disappointing minutes of the US Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting weighed on investors’ sentiment. In Japan, Komatsu and Hitachi Construction Machinery declined 4.1% and 3.0%, respectively, following weak quarterly sales report by their US peer, Caterpillar. In Hong Kong, Belle International slumped 14.0%, after the company indicated that its FY12 net profit would be at the lower end of market expectations. In Seoul, Hyundai Elevator plunged 6.6%, on reports that it has decided to issue new stocks at a 25.0% discount to Wednesday's closing price. The Nikkei 225 Index is trading 0.8% lower at 11,376.28, while the Kospi Index is trading 0.6% down at 2,013.08. The Hang Seng Index has dropped 1.7% to trade at 22,912.29.

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