JSE plunges most since 1997 in ‘panic’ sell-off

South Africa’s benchmark stock index plunged the most since the market crash of October 1997 as reaction to US measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus accelerated the sell-off sweeping through global equities.

The FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index sank as much as 9.3% as of 15h34 in Johannesburg.

Naspers Ltd., South Africa’s biggest stock, fell 7.1% to weigh heaviest on the overall market. Mining stocks plummeted 14%, set for a record decline.

All but three of the benchmark’s 158 members were lower Thursday as selling by risk-averse investors spread to all sectors.

“It’s all panic selling right now,” said Rene Hochreiter, an analyst at Noah Capital Markets Ltd. in Johannesburg.

Fuel and chemicals producer Sasol Ltd., among companies worst affected by the sharp drop in oil prices amid concerns about its debt levels, posted further heavy losses, falling 40%. It has plunged 80% in four days.

“It’s broad-based, indiscriminate selling,” said Seleho Tsatsi, an analyst at Anchor Capital in Johannesburg.

Read: South Africa is used to bad news – but these numbers should still upset you

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JSE plunges most since 1997 in ‘panic’ sell-off