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S.African stocks advance, miners gain some ground

Thursday, 4 Oct 2012 | 12:23 AM ET

* All-share index up 0.41 percent at 36,268.96

* Top-40 index down 0.43 percent at 32,005.30

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 4 (Reuters) - South African stocks rose for the first time in three sessions on Thursday with mining shares among the gainers as higher commodity prices and a weaker rand helped offset labour unrest in the nation's mines.

Indices were further bolstered by an upbeat tone in major overseas equity markets following encouraging comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on tools to tackle the region's debt crisis.

But Imperial Holdings , the country's biggest transport group, led the decliners with a nearly 4 percent fall as a strike over higher pay by 20,000 truck drivers continued.

The JSE Top-40 index was up 0.43 percent at 32,005.30 and the broader All-share index improved 0.41 percent to 36,268.96

"There's still an underlying bearishness in the market because of all the strikes we see across the country," said Rigardt Maartens, a portfolio manager at PSG Securities.

"But commodity prices are picking up nicely and the rand is weak, which is good for mining stocks."

South African mining companies benefit from a weaker rand because they sell commodities for dollars but pay costs in rand.

Mining stocks have been hit in recent sessions by wildcat strikes that have cut output and raised fears of expensive wage deals with strikers.

Anglo American , whose iron ore and platinum units face illegal strikes, rose 1.2 percent to 249.70 rand. Two of its subsidiaries, Kumba Iron Ore and Anglo American Platinum , ended little changed.

Gold shot to its highest since last November after the ECB elected to keep interest rates at ultra-low levels, while gold priced in rand hit a record high.

Platinum rose 1.1 percent to notch up an eighth straight session of gains.

Other gainers were shopping malls owner Capital Shopping Centres , up 2.2 percent at 46.60 rand and cigarettes maker British American Tobacco , up 2.3 percent at 453.78 rand.

Imperial Holdings dropped 3.91 percent to 178.01 rand after talks to end a strike for higher pay by truck drivers collapsed on Thursday.

Retailers also retreated as investors took profits following two sessions of sharp gains that some analysts have said have pushed shares to levels where they can only disappoint.

Grocer Shoprite lost 1.8 percent to 170.29 rand and rival Woolworths fell by the same margin to 62.50 rand.

A total 154 million shares changed hands, with 178 companies gaining ground and another 120 losing value while 61 shares remained unchanged.

(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by David Dolan)

((tiisetso.motsoeneng@thomsonreuters.com)(+27 11 775 3122)(Reuters Messaging: tiisetso.motsoeneng.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: SAFRICA STOCKS/