Gold Stocks Drop as Marcus Warns on Growth: Johannesburg Mover

South Africa’s gold stocks fell to the lowest level in two months after central bank governor Gill Marcus said growth is likely to remain low and on concern that little progress is being made in U.S. budget talks.

The five-member FTSE/JSE Africa Gold Mining Index dropped 2.6 percent to 2,253.33 in Johannesburg, the lowest close since Sept. 5. Harmony Gold Mining Co. fell 3.9 percent and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Africa’s biggest producer of the metal, slipped 2.4 percent. Gold Fields Ltd., the world’s fourth-biggest gold producer, retreated 2.5 percent.

Growth in the fourth quarter “is likely to be very low,” Marcus said in Johannesburg today. Africa’s biggest economy expanded an annualized 1.2 percent in the third quarter, the slowest pace since a 2009 recession, as mining output plunged because of strikes, the statistics office said yesterday.

“Every time there are worries about growth, miners will get hammered,” David Shapiro, a director at Johannesburg-based Sasfin Securities, said by phone. “The rand weakens, commodity prices weaken, people get worried about growth and we go down.”

Marcus’s comments saw the rand extend its first decline in five days against the dollar, slipping as much as 0.6 percent to 8.8918. The rand retreated earlier as commodities fell on concern talks to avoid the U.S.’s so-called fiscal cliff aren’t progressing.

U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet with business leaders today after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday he was disappointed with congressional budget talks aimed at averting $607 billion in tax increases and spending cuts and as the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development lowered growth forecasts for advanced economies.

Commodities Drop

Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of commodities declined for a third day, losing 1.4 percent, the most in three weeks. Gold for immediate delivery retreated 1.7 percent, the most since Nov. 2, to $1,712.35 an ounce.

The gold-stock index’s 50-day historical volatility, a measure of stock swings, increased to 28.2 from 27.7 yesterday. The FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index’s volatility measure for the same period was at 10.3 compared with 10 yesterday. A higher reading means an asset’s price can have bigger moves.

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