The JSE opened firmer on Thursday, amid a slew of company results and as the market awaited the outcome of the European Central Bank’s meeting later in the day.

"The meeting may not go down as the most exciting on record, but it could contain some very subtle hints that the end of quantitative easing (QE) is close," said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

In December 2016 the European Central Bank (ECB) announced a plan to reduce its QE programme in a measured manner and has since reduced the extent of monthly bond purchases.

Standard Bank’s results, the strongest among the big four in the 2018 reporting season, buoyed the banking sector, while Shoprite led the food retailers higher.

Property counter Resilient is finally on the recovery path, gaining more than 4% at the opening after announcing its intention to restructure its controversial broad-based black economic empowerment entity and eliminate its cross-holdings with Fortress.

On Wall Street on Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed 0.33% lower. But Asian markets were higher on Thursday as concern over a trade war eased. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.54% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.65%.

At 9.33am the JSE all share was 0.48% higher at 59,247.30 points and the top 40 rose 0.61%. Banks gained 1.11%, food and drug retailers 1.08%, industrials 0.73% and financials 0.39%. The gold index shed 1.51% and the platinum index was off 0.45%.

Sasol was up 0.93% at R415.20. Brent crude slipped 0.25% to $64.34 a barrel.

Bidvest eased 0.59% to R236.88.

Standard Bank was up 2.39% at R229.19, just off an earlier record at R231. The bank’s headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the year to end-December grew 14% to R16.40.

Barclays Africa rose 1.7% to R208.99, but FirstRand lost 0.21% to R71.79.

Sanlam added 0.22% to R95.20. Normalised headline earnings per share for the year were up 18%.

MMI Holdings dropped 1.21% to R21.24. Interim core earnings, as reported on Wednesday, fell 3% to R1.6bn.

Shoprite added 1.81% to R280.49.

Resilient rose 3.33% to R64.76, Fortress B 1.07% to R15.10 and Nepi Rockcastle 1.13% to R114.97.

Naspers rose 0.99% to R3,512.29.

Aspen firmed 3.63% to R266.32. Normalised headline earnings per share rose 26% to R8.72 in the six months to December.

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