JSE weakens as investors parse gloomy economic news


Gloomy international economic news ensured the JSE tracked weaker Asian markets on Friday morning, although gold miners benefited from a weaker rand and investor interest in safe-haven assets.

Chinese exports dropped 20.7% in February month on month, surprising the market, which according to macroeconomics website Trading Economics had expected a 4.8% fall.

The downbeat data comes a day after the European Central Bank (ECB) lowered its growth forecasts for the eurozone, with its promises of new stimulus measures putting pressure on the rand and the euro.

The local currency is now at its worst level against the dollar since early January.

Both President Cyril Ramaphosa's reiteration of the ANC's plans to nationalise the Reserve Bank, as well as news of electricity tariff increases that are well above inflation, also served as headwinds for the local currency, analysts said.

Naspers was down 1.19% at R3,092.83 at 10am on Friday, tracking losses of its main asset, Hong Kong-listed Tencent. Asian markets were sharply lower on Friday, with the Shanghai Composite down 4%.

International focus is now expected to shift to US nonfarm payroll data, due at 3.30pm.

The all share was down 0.37% at 55,649.8 points and the top 40 had lost 0.52%. Industrials were down 0.88%, while gold miners had added 3.16%.

Gold was up 0.64% at $1,293.55/oz while platinum was flat at $814.69. Brent crude was down 0.88% at $65.48 a barrel.

Rand hedge AB InBev was up 1.19% at R1,168.51.

Harmony Gold jumped 4.93% to R27.68.

At 10.35am, Aspen Pharmacare had fallen 29% to R100. It had said after markets had closed on Thursday that normalised headline earnings per share had fallen 6% in the six months to end-December compared to the prior period. This calculation took into account new reporting standards that required restating the prior years results.