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South African Stocks Retreat in Longest Streak Since 2004

South Africa’s main stocks index fell for the longest losing streak in a decade as foreign investors sold equities after worse-than-estimated U.S. factory data cast doubt on the recovery in the world’s biggest economy.

The benchmark 165-member FTSE/JSE Africa All-Share Index fell for an eighth day, the longest stretch since February 2004, dropping 1.1 percent to 44,451.57 by the close in Johannesburg. Almost three stocks fell for every one that gained amid a global equity rout that has wiped about $2.9 trillion from shares this year. The index dropped 5.5 percent since Jan. 24.

The selloff in Africa’s biggest economy joins emerging markets that were jolted by the start of Federal Reserve tapering last month. Foreign investors sold a net 1.04 billion rand ($93 million) of stocks yesterday, bringing outflows to 1.52 billion rand this year, according to data from the country’s securities exchange.

“There is selling pressure and it is predominantly driven by foreign selling,” Brendon Hubbard, who helps to oversee 380 million rand in equity funds at ClucasGray, said by phone from Johannesburg today. “Stock valuations are not at a really cheap level to tip people back in. Local fund managers are sitting on cash.”

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index slid to 51.3 from 56.5 the prior month, the Tempe, Arizona-based group’s report showed. The 822-member MSCI Emerging Markets Index slid 0.9 percent, heading for its lowest close in more than five months.

BHP, Richemont

“The forces at play are much greater than just” South African factors, Jean Pierre Verster, who helps to oversee the equivalent of more than $1.1 billion at 36ONE Asset Management, said by phone. “Central bankers of emerging-market economies are at the behest of what’s happening globally and specifically the impact of the tapering.”

Johannesburg-listed companies that operate internationally were among the laggards today. BHP Billiton Plc, the world’s biggest miner, fell 2.3 percent in a fourth day of losses. Cie Financiere Richemont SA, the maker of Cartier jewelry, slid 2.4 percent to 100.11 rand.

Naspers Ltd., which owns a 34 percent stake in China’s biggest Internet company, Tencent Holdings Ltd., fell 1.1 percent to 1,126.68 rand. SABMiller Plc, the world’s second-largest brewer, declined 2 percent to 486.55 rand, falling for a sixth day.

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