South African stocks ended higher on Thursday, with Standard Bank among the top gainers on the blue-chip index after the lender declared a better-than-expected dividend payout.
[DATA SBK:Standard Bank], whose full-year profit hardly grew, hiked its dividend by 12 percent to 598 cents per share, well above a 579 cents estimate in a Reuters poll of 13 analysts.
Shares in Africa's biggest bank by assets jumped 5.4 percent to 156.96 rand.
"They positively surprised on the dividend, which is driving the share price at this point," said Abri du Plessis, Chief Investment Officer at Gryphon Asset Management.
Overall, investors took their cue from firmer overseas markets and piled into bourse heavyweights such as Aspen Pharmacare and MTN Group after they posted strong results.
The benchmark JSE Top-40 index gained 0.77 percent to 47,105 and the broader All-share index added 0.75 percent to 53,285.
Boosted by a 22 percent jump in first-half profit, [DATA APN:Aspen Pharmacare] rose 2.4 percent to 430.01 rand. MTN Group was up 5.9 percent, extending gains to the second straight day after the mobile phone operator reported 9 percent growth in annual profit.
Mining stocks featured on the decliners' list as metal prices such as iron ore tumbled. [DATA KIO:Kumba Iron Ore] slumped 4.6 percent to 209 rand.
Activity was robust with about 297 million shares traded compared with last year's daily average of 185 million shares, according to preliminary bourse data.