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South African Equities: AngloGold, BHP Billiton, Bidvest, Sappi

The FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index dropped to its lowest close in almost six weeks, shedding 351.35, or 1.1 percent, to 30,520.43 by the 5 p.m. close in Johannesburg.

The following were among the most active stocks in the South African market today.

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (ANG SJ), Africa’s largest gold producer, gained the most in three weeks, advancing 10.71 rand, or 3.7 percent, to 300.71 rand. Gold rallied to a record for a second straight day as escalating concern that the global recovery may be losing momentum drove investors to buy the metal to protect their wealth. A strike at South African gold producers including AngloGold, Gold Fields Ltd. (GFI SJ) and Harmony Gold Mining Co. (HAR SJ) ended yesterday.

Harmony, Africa’s third-largest gold producer, increased to its highest in more than two weeks, rising 2.91 rand, or 3 percent, to 99.41 rand.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BIL SJ), the world’s biggest mining group, fell for an eighth day, the longest streak of losses since October 2004, declining 6.92 rand, or 2.9 percent, to 236.08 rand. Copper fell to a three-week low in London on concern the economic rebound is faltering in the U.S., the world’s second-biggest user of the metal. BHP Billiton was cut to “neutral” from “outperform” by analysts at Credit Suisse Group AG.

Bidvest Group Ltd. (BVT SJ), a diversified management and services company, declined 4.02 rand, or 2.6 percent, to 153 rand, the lowest closing price since July 1. As many as 100,000 contract cleaners in South Africa are threatening to go on strike if their pay demands aren’t met, the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union said in an e-mailed statement today.

Capital Property Fund (CPL SJ), a property-management fund, rose to a record, gaining 18 cents, or 2.1 percent, to 8.65 rand. The fund raised its distribution per unit for the six months to June 30 by 11 percent to 31.36 cents.

Firestone Energy Ltd. (FSE SJ), an Australian exploration company with operations in South Africa, rose to its highest in a week, gaining 2 cents, or 15 percent, to 15 cents. The group’s joint venture Waterberg Coal Project received approval to mine coal over the seven properties contained in the project.

Sappi Ltd. (SAP SJ), the world’s biggest maker of glossy paper, fell to its lowest in more than a year, dropping 56 cents, or 1.9 percent, to 28.85 rand. The company will take a charge of about $5 million in the fourth quarter as a result of its decision to shut down its Adamas paper mill at Port Elizabeth in South Africa.

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