Unprecedented demand for online services and entertainment during Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, along with a scramble for haven investments, have helped set South African stocks on course for a record month.
The benchmark index in Johannesburg is up 14% in April as of Wednesday’s close, the most in any month since Bloomberg began tracking the gauge in 1995. Global equity markets are rising as investors assess plans by countries to restart activity and amid signs of progress in treating the coronavirus, but South African stocks have outpaced their emerging-market peers.
Naspers [JSE:NPN] has been the biggest contributor to April’s gains, with the Cape Town-based tech investor advancing to record highs as it benefits from its 31% stake in Chinese internet giant Tencent. AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG] and Gold Fields are also among leading market drivers as bullion heads for its best month since 2016, thanks to its allure as a store of value.
“The preference for safe havens will remain for extended periods, even with the increase in optimism, as investors try to preserve capital while participating in the upside we’re seeing,” said Lulama Qongqo, an analyst at Mergence Investment Managers in Cape Town.
Naspers, up 14% in April as of Wednesday, accounts for 20% of the main index, with other major contributions this month coming from market heavyweights BHP [JSE:BIL], Anglo American [JSE:AGL] and Richemont [JSE:CFR]. In percentage terms, Sasol [JSE:SOL]has surged the most, its price more than doubling as the battered oil producer set out plans to shore up its finances.
*Fin24 is part of Media24, a subsidiary of Naspers.