Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

The rand was back over R12 to the dollar and R17 to the pound on Friday morning as its temporary safe-haven status waned with war in Syria looking less imminent.

"Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our ‘Thank you America?’" US President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday.

The rand was trading at R12.05 to the dollar, R17.16 to the pound and R14.86 to the euro at 7am.

Japanese stocks were up, but Chinese stocks were down ahead of the JSE’s opening on Friday morning as markets digested the latest news from Syria and Trump’s protectionist rhetoric.

China reported a surprise $5bn trade deficit for March at 5am South African time, defying economists’ expectations of a $27bn surplus.

Chinese exports declined 2.7% from March in 2017 while imports grew 14.4%. A poll of economists by Trading Economics expected both exports and imports to grow about 10%.

Mainland China’s Shenzhen and Shanghai composite indices both fell about 0.4%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.1%. Naspers’s Chinese associate Tencent was down 0.87% to HK$409.60.

Tokyo’s Topix index, on the other hand, rose 0.65% and Sydney’s ASX 200 index rose 0.33%, with BHP rising 0.61% to A$29.82.

Steinhoff International closed 6.2% lower at €0.18 in Franfkurt on Thursday. At the R14.86 to the euro the rand was trading at ahead of the JSE’s opening on Friday, this equated to R2.67, higher than Steinhoff’s R2.45 closing price on Thursday.