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South African Stocks: Absa, BHP, Discovery, Group Five, Optimum

The FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index rose for a fifth day, adding 82.62, or 0.3 percent, to 31,088.12 by 5 p.m. in Johannesburg, its highest close in a month.

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

Absa Group Ltd. (ASA SJ), South Africa’s largest retail bank, ended at its strongest in more than seven months, gaining 2.01 rand, or 1.4 percent, to 141.50 rand. The bank has no “mass” job-cut program in place, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Louis von Zeuner said in an e-mailed statement today after labor union Solidarity said it is applying to the country’s Labor Court for an interdict to stop planned job reductions at Absa.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BIL SJ), the world’s largest mining group, fell the most in two weeks, easing 2.39 rand, or 1 percent, to 237.83 rand. Commodities slumped, led by copper, oil and wheat, on speculation slowing manufacturing will curb demand for raw materials.

Coal of Africa Ltd. (CZA SJ), a producer of coal, rose to its highest in a month, surging 38 cents, or 4.9 percent, to 8.18 rand. The company said it expects its Vele colliery water license in South Africa will be resolved within the “next couple of weeks.”

Discovery Holdings Ltd. (DSY SJ), South Africa’s largest medical insurance administrator, gained for a fifth day, rising 1 rand, or 2.6 percent, to 39.25 rand. Net income for the 12 months to June 30 climbed 50 percent to 2.58 billion rand ($368 million).

Group Five Ltd. (GRF SJ), a South African construction company, sank for the first time in four days, dropping 53 cents, or 2 percent, to 26 rand. The group was downgraded to “underperform” from “neutral” at Macquarie Research by equity analyst Peter Steyn, with a 12-month price estimate of 22.50 rand.

Kumba Iron Ore Ltd. (KIO SJ), an iron ore-producing unit of Anglo American, rose to its highest in more than four weeks, gaining 15.51 rand, or 3.2 percent, to 500 rand. The company was raised to “hold” from “sell” at Deutsche Bank AG by equity analyst Tim Clark, with a 12-month target estimate of 445 rand.

Optimum Coal Holdings Ltd. (OPT SJ), a coal producer, closed at its highest in almost five months, climbing 45 cents, or 1.4 percent, to 33.55 rand. Glencore International Plc, the largest publicly traded commodities supplier, proposed a cash takeover of Optimum that values the South African target at $1.2 billion, or 34 rand a share.

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