On Friday, the benchmark all-share index closed down 0.72% at 71,686 and the blue-chip Top 40 index closed down 0.59% at 65,390. However, both posted weekly gains and hovered near their all-time highs reached earlier in the week. South Africa reported more than 22,000 new COVID -19 cases on Thursday, a record during the current fourth wave of infection that is rapidly approaching the peak of the third wave. However, the Omicron variant has not led to a surge in deaths, and early anecdotal reports suggest it causes mainly mild illness. This has given both the local currency and stock markets some respite.
The rand strengthened during Friday’s session after U.S. inflation data came in line with expectations and relieved investors of concerns that the Federal Reserve may pursue an aggressive rate hike plan. However, by the end of the day, the rand was trading R16.01 weaker against the dollar, or 0.44%.
Gold prices edged higher this morning as higher consumer prices in the US boosted gold’s appeal as an inflation hedge, while investors awaited a series of central bank meetings this week, including that of the US Federal Reserve, for further clues. Meanwhile, oil prices rose this morning, extending their gains from last Friday. This was due to growing optimism that the impact of the Omicron coronavirus on global economic growth and fuel demand will be limited.
Christo Wiese bets R414 million on Shoprite
Former Shoprite Holdings chief executive Christo Wiese has bought 20 000 individual share futures contracts on the open market with a total value of R413,6 million. The group made the announcement on Friday. Wiese, who retires in 2020 after 40 years as group chairman, remains a non-executive director and made the purchases through a company he controls, Toerama. The contracts were purchased in four transactions at an average price of between R202,53 and R207,69 per Shoprite share. The highest price paid was R209. It is not too common for directors to take advantage of their exposure. On Friday, the group also announced that Wiese will finally exercise a cash-settled share-based payment of one million shares that was granted to him in 2003 and expires on September 5, 2022.
Software developer escalates his 15-year battle with Medscheme
Software developer Neil Harvey & Associates (NHA) has escalated its 15-year legal battle with Medscheme over copyright infringement and the damages it allegedly suffered as a result by filing a lawsuit with the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) against the medical device administrator. Medscheme is owned by JSE-listed healthcare company AfroCentric Investment Corporation and insurance giant Sanlam. In its complaint, the NHA questions Medscheme’s suitability to provide administration services; its resources, systems, capabilities and capacity to provide the desired administration services; and its financial health.