South African futures were weaker on Wednesday, as global risk-off sentiment led to a lower close on the JSE while the Dow opened weaker in cautious trade.

The all share closed 1.12% lower at 58,423.20 points and the top 40 lost 1.11%. General retailers relinquished 2.29%, food and drug retailers 2.28%, banks 1.77%, industrials 1.41%, and financials 1.23%. The property index added 0.92%.

Global markets were subdued as investors remained concerned about a possible global trade war. US President Donald Trump intends imposing tariffs of up to $50bn on Chinese imports, targeting the technology and telecommunication sectors. This follows earlier announcements of higher tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

Earlier, however, concerns over a potential trade war eased as rhetoric from the White House became less aggressive. The announcements excluded key trade partners Mexico and Canada from the steel and aluminium tariffs. In addition, a number of US trade partners, including Brazil, South Korea and Japan, are said to be considering applying for exemption from the levy. The EU also said it was counting on exclusion from the metal tariffs.

Looking ahead, the effect of the tariffs on the US’s trade relationship with China will be important, Franklin Templeton analysts said. China stated it was strongly opposed to the imposition of tariffs and would take effective measures to protect its rights.

The top-40 Alsi futures index lost 1.53% to 51,580 points. The number of contracts traded was 47,619 from Tuesday’s 141,347, ahead of the futures close-out on Thursday.