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Liberty Leads Insurers Higher as Stocks Rise: Johannesburg Mover

Liberty Holdings Ltd., a South African insurer owned by Africa’s largest bank, rose the most in six weeks, leading gains on the FTSE/JSE Africa Life Assurance Index.

Liberty jumped 4.5 percent, the most since May 8, to 123.50 rand by the close in Johannesburg. The five-member index climbed 3 percent, the steepest increase since March 1, with Sanlam Ltd. adding 4.1 percent and MMI Holdings Ltd. advancing 3.6 percent. The gauge has slumped 7.7 percent since May 22, when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said stimulus efforts could be scaled back if the employment outlook improves.

The 166-member FTSE/JSE Africa All-Share Index rose 1.7 percent for a fourth day of gains. The measure declined 3.6 percent from May 22 to June 14. Insurers invest part of the premiums they take from clients every month into equity, bonds and other asset classes.

“These companies are geared to the equity market’s performance,” Ryan Wibberley, the head of equity dealing for frontier and emerging markets at Cape Town-based Investec Asset Management, said by phone today. “They have been dramatically sold off in recent weeks, especially after Ben Bernanke’s speech.”

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