South African stocks edged lower on Wednesday, led by petrochemicals firm Sasol as brent crude for July slipped when investors adjusted their positions ahead of a key meeting of OPEC oil producers.

Shares in Sasol, which makes almost half of its sales from the fuel, fell 2.59 percent to close at 425.82 rand.

Oil prices fell in volatile trade ahead of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting on Friday to discuss the group’s oil output which is expected to remain unchanged.

Despite announcing a 17 percent jump in earnings for the first four months of this year as its emerging markets division and personal finance division sales grew, South Africa’s biggest insurer, Sanlam, fell 0.70 percent to 67.61 rand.

Analysts said investors were in risk-off mode because of global uncertainty.

“People do not want to be committing money into the stock market at this stage. They are busy selling shares instead of buying shares,” said Owen Nkomo, executive partner at Inkunzi Investments.

“There’s a threat of interest rates going up. That’s basically what is pushing the market down.”

South Africa’s fashion-value retailer Mr Price fell 1.91 percent to 231 rand after rising on Tuesday when it announced plans to open stores in Australia by year-end, while Woolworths Holdings fell 1.58 percent.

Australia-based mining company BHP Billiton PLC edged 0.78 percent lower to 257.60 rand as the company warned of ongoing downward pressure on metal prices.

Bucking the trend, Kumba Iron Ore rose 2.11 percent to 167.46 rand as iron ore prices neared a three-week high.

The Top 40 Index was 0.63 percent lower at 46,083.96 points and the All Share Index lost 0.64 percent to close on 51,850.67 points.

Source: Reuters