Johannesburg Stocks Fall Most Since 1997 in ‘Panic’ Sell-Off

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South Africa’s benchmark stock index plunged the most since the market crash of October 1997 as the lack of faith shown by investors in U.S. and European policy responses to the worsening spread of the coronavirus accelerated the sell-off sweeping through global equities.

The FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index sank 9.7% by the close in Johannesburg. Naspers Ltd., South Africa’s biggest stock, fell 8% to weigh heaviest on the overall market. Mining stocks plummeted 15% in a record decline. Just one the benchmark’s 158 members managed gains Thursday as selling by risk-averse investors spread to all sectors.

“It’s all panic selling right now,” said Rene Hochreiter, an analyst at Noah Capital Markets Ltd. in Johannesburg.

Fuel and chemicals producer Sasol Ltd., among companies worst affected by the sharp drop in oil prices amid concerns about its debt levels, posted further heavy losses, falling 29%. It has plunged 76% in four days.

“It’s broad-based, indiscriminate selling,” said Seleho Tsatsi, an analyst at Anchor Capital in Johannesburg.

– Bloomberg

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