March was a volatile month on global markets with stocks surging after the US Federal Reserve’s latest, more dovish, statement in mid-March.
This was before stocks came under pressure again towards the end of the month as investors sold off on the back of weak Chinese economic data, mixed US economic reports and rising Middle East violence.
Global commodity prices were the biggest losers while on the JSE property and banking stocks led the field as resource counters, for the most part, closed in the red. Oil prices were relatively volatile during the month with the price of Brent crude ending March c. 11.9 per cent down.
Although US crude oil inventories increased during the month under review, oil prices spiked after Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes on neighbouring Yemen before prices retreated again.
Locally, the All Share Index fell back from the all-time highs it reached in February, ending the month 2.2 per cent down at 5,2181.9, YTD the index is still up c. 4.8 per cent.
The RESI-20 gave back the previous month's impressive gains, and then some, dropping 10.3 per cent MoM. The FINI-15 closed in the black, +1.6% MoM, while the INDI-25 ended the month 1.1 per cent in the red.
March was a rollercoaster ride for the rand as US dollar strength saw it fall to 13-year lows before recovering to end the month 4.1 per cent down vs the greenback.
(READ MORE: JSE's top performing stocks in February)
After February’s 5.5 per cent MoM drop, the gold price lost a further 2.1 per cent in March as it looked increasingly likely that the Fed may gradually start raising interest rates this year.
The platinum price, and platinum counters, were on a downward spiral in March, as a global resources sell-off resulted in platinum hitting five-year lows while iron ore prices continued to plummet.
On the economic data front, locally the rand was slightly cheered by the latest current account data as the 4Q deficit narrowed more than initially expected on the back of a rebound from strikes in mining and manufacturing, while lower oil prices cut import costs.
The SA Reserve Bank (SARB) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) unanimously decided to maintain the repo rate at 5.75 per cent, albeit with more hawkish rhetoric than before.
SARB leading indicator data for January 2015 disappointed, with a 2.2 per cent YoY contraction - its worst performance since July 2012 - while the constrained electricity supply, pummelled rand and the global resource sell-off continued to weigh on sentiment.
Top-20 performers: March 2015
- CAPITEC BANK HOLDINGS LTD
- PSG GROUP LTD
- MIX TELEMATICS
- LIBERTY HOLDINGS LTD
- EOH HOLDINGS LTD
- RHODES FOOD GROUP PTY LTD
- AFROCENTRIC INVESTMENT CORPO
- STEINHOFF INTL HOLDINGS LTD
- ATTACQ LTD
- RESILIENT PROPERTY INCOME
- ROCKCASTLE GLOBAL REAL ESTAT
- STANDARD BANK GROUP LTD
- FOUNTAINHEAD PROPERTY TRUST
- ZEDER INVESTMENTS LTD
- DIPULA INCOME FUND-B
- MPACT LTD
- NASPERS LTD-N SHS
- THE FOSCHINI GROUP LTD
- PIONEER FOODS LTD
- MONTAUK ENERGY HOLDINGS LTD
*This article was first published by Anchor Captial