S.Africa stocks seen hostage to Wall St, Y2K fears

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S.Africa stocks seen hostage to Wall St, Y2K fears

07:00 a.m. Nov 05, 1999 Eastern

By Emelia Sithole

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Mounting fears about the Y2K computer bug are likely to keep South African stocks subdued next week despite brightening prospects for the local economy, equity analysts said on Friday.

They said concerns that Wall Street might be expensive around current levels were also likely to weigh on Johannesburg.

``There are two issues that are overhanging our market: the one is the strength of Wall Street and the second one is the Y2K issue,'' said Dion Metcalfe, assistant general manager at Absa Asset Management.

Metcalfe and other analysts said most fund managers seemed to be limiting their exposure to equities until next year when the Y2K issue is out of the way.

Concern about Y2K -- or the millennium bug -- stems from an early programming practice of using only two digits to denote the year. If left unremedied, computers could mistake 2000 for 1900 and crash or malfunction at the start of the new year.

Those concerns kept Johannesburg subdued this week despite brightening prospects for the South African economy as interest rates fall.

The bourse's benchmark All Share index (.JSAI) was last 32.7 points or 0.45 percent weaker at 7,190.2 as the market fluctuated amid traditional pre-weekend profit-taking and as investors waited for interest-rate sensitive payrolls data out of the United States later on Friday.

-- (recent@new.s), November 06, 1999

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