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Shares flat despite resource rout

BHP Billiton leading the decline after ratings agency Fitch said iron ore prices could stay low for several years.

South African stocks were flat on Tuesday, despite resource stocks taking a beating with BHP Billiton leading the decline after ratings agency Fitch said iron ore prices could stay low for several years.

The world’s largest mining company BHP Billiton, which has a large iron ore division, shed 4.76% on the report by Fitch and a warning by its CEO Andrew Mackenzie that plans by Australia’s government to launch a probe about competition in the nation’s iron ore industry could scare off investors.

Shares in coal producer Exxaro Resources, which owns a minority stake in the Sishen Iron Ore Company, fell 4.17% to R89.60 after warning that its earnings this half year would be lower due to lower iron ore export prices.

Kumba Iron Ore, which has a majority stake in Sishen, fell to R148.35 a share, its weakest level this month but pared losses to close 4.77% lower at R154.00.

Kumba’s parent, Anglo American, was down 2.24%, and the diversified miner was further pulled down by its unit Anglo American Platinum (Amplats).

Amplats, the world’s largest producer of the metal used as a catalytic converter to reduce emissions by vehicles, closed 4.37% weaker only a day after reports that platinum recycling from cars could hit a record this year.

Rival platinum producer Lonmin fell 3.23%, while Impala Platinum closed 1.98% weaker.

The biggest gainer among the JSE’s blue chips was South Africa’s biggest cement maker PPC, which rose despite announcing a decline in its half-year earnings after announcing cost savings measures to boost earnings.

Its shares surged by more than 7% to R18.95.

Fishing firm Oceana Group gained more than 3% after acquiring a UUS based fishmeal manufacturer.

The Top 40 Index fell 0.25% to 48,143 points and the All Share Index lost 0.15% lower on 54,327.13 points.

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