Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

The JSE tracked weaker at lunchtime on Friday in low-volume trade, suggesting that investors are taking a cautious approach ahead of the French presidential election this weekend, which analysts have flagged as a potential event-risk to the markets.

"While a degree of nervousness surrounding the upcoming French election continues to be an element, which determines overall market sentiment, trading over the past 48 hours has, in fact, mostly hinged on US first-quarter earnings," Momentum SP Reid Securities analysts said.

The all-share index was off 0.16% at 52,410.80 points at midday, bringing losses to 2% this week, which marks its steepest weekly decline since December.

Resource shares in particular came under pressure for the better part of the week as the rand strengthened to a three-week high against the dollar and commodity prices weakened, before stabilising by Friday. The resource 10 index was up 0.54% on the day, but was still down nearly 4% over the five-day session.

Europe’s leading markets were mixed at midday, with France’s CAC 40 losing 0.57% while Germany’s DAX 30 was relatively flat. However, US stock futures pointed to a strong opening on Wall Street this afternoon, where the focus is also on corporate earnings for the first quarter.

American Express rallied 5.9% on Thursday after its results beat estimates. Steel stocks rose after US President Donald Trump announced a government investigation into whether foreign steel imports were harming national security.

On the JSE, Kumba regained 3.83% to R185.33 in line with the rebound in iron prices. African Rainbow recovered 3.26% to R86.74.

Pioneer Foods dropped 4.38% to R169, after calling off a potential deal with agribusiness Zeder Investments.

Life Healthcare group was up 2.61% to R27.10.

Mondi was up 1.08% to R330.01 and Sappi gained 1.31% to R96.24.

Please sign in or register to comment.