Stock Market Guide to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange
With a history going back to 1887, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has developed into a world-class stock exchange with more than 400 company listings and a market capitalization of more than $182 billion. Located in Johannesburg, South Africa, the JSE’s size and capitalization make it the largest exchange on the continent as well as placing it in the top ten largest exchanges in the world. JSE shares are listed on one of two separate markets – depending on which criteria they meet. Those listed on the Mainboard have to adhere to the strictest requirements and it is the Mainboard which has been in use the longest. Still a relatively new branch of the JSE, the AltX tends to list smaller companies who do not yet meet the Mainboard criteria. Since this branch is still relatively new only a small portion of the JSE listings are on the AltX list. In addition to this, the JSE is fully electronic, making use of the JET (Johannesburg Equities Trading) System. The system ensures that trades are automatically executed. In 2005 the JSE became a public company. Some of the major companies listed on the JSE are SASOL Limited, Sun International, Barloworld, Tiger Brands and Telkom.
For some time now, South Africa has been seen as the economic powerhouse of Africa. Its main trade organizations are WTO, SADC and SACU and the country’s GDP makes up roughly 25% of Africa’s GDP – a rather remarkable achievement. The UN classifies it as a ‘middle-income country’ with a copious supply of resources as well as a well-developed infrastructure. It has excellent financial, legal, communications, transport and energy sectors as well as a top-notch stock exchange.
The country’s modern infrastructure is able to support a good rate of import ($52.97 billion in 2005) and export ($40.91 billion in 2005) as well as distribute goods evenly across the region. In fact the country has the 24th highest GDP in the world, making it one of the fifty wealthiest countries on the globe. Unfortunately this wealth and development is not evenly spread across the country and there are pockets of prosperity and poverty everywhere. Certain key marginal areas have experienced rapid growth in recent years due to various government strategies but the country still has a long way to go to achieve its goal of halving its 26.6% unemployment rate by 2014. Whatever development takes place in the business world and the economy of South Africa, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange will remain an essential element.