JSE opens lower as Chinese retail sales retreat amid looming trade war
The JSE opened weaker on Tuesday on disappointing Chinese retail sales data ahead of the release of similar US data for the sector later in the morning.
Early-morning losses were broad-based, led by banks and gold stocks on a weaker rand, which lost about 20c against the dollar from Monday’s firmer levels.
Retail sectors are a major driver of GDP growth in most developed countries. The figures in the US will be particularly closely watched as it might affect the US Federal Reserve’s stance on interest rates for the rest of 2018.
Analysts expect US retail sales to have risen a monthly 0.30% in April from 0.60% in March.
Locally, the market is bracing for a possible weaker retail number amid earlier hopes that retail sales could boost GDP growth for 2018, following weaker-than-expected manufacturing and mining data released last week.
The consensus view is for annual growth of 4.7% in March from 4.9% in February.
The Hang Seng dropped on the Chinese data, reflecting the weakest number in more than a decade amid concern that a trade war between the US and China might flare up further. The Hang Seng shed 1.07% and the Nikkei 225 0.21%.
Chinese retail sales came in at 9.4%, missing the expected 10.0% and the previous 10.1% reading.
FxPro analysts said the Hang Seng was under pressure following a report from Moody’s saying that China was unlikely to meet the US’s request to reduce its trade surplus by $200bn by 2020 without causing "significant disruptions to its economy".
They also believe that this measure would be incompatible with the Chinese government’s policy objectives, FxPro noted.
Mining prices were lower, with platinum down 0.4% to $905.38 an ounce. Brent crude was flat at $78.43 a barrel.
At 10am the all share was 1.11% lower at 57,963.10 and the top 40 had lost 1.21%. The gold index dropped 2.71%, banks 2.33%, property 1.46%, financials 1.38% and general retailers 1.28%.
Anglo American lost 1.58% to R302.32 and Kumba Iron Ore 2.39% to R287.52.
British American Tobacco lifted 0.8% to R641.33.
Sibanye-Stillwater dropped 4.26% to R8.98 and Lonmin 1.4% to R8.47, as a do-or-die merger remained in limbo.
Steinhoff International fell 3.14% to a new low of R1.54.
Investec Property Fund rose 0.28% to R17.70. The group declared a final dividend of 70.16c, taking its total for the year to end-March to 138.53c, an 8.5% increase on the previous year’s 127.65c.
MTN shed 2.89% to R121.48.
Naspers lost 2.44% to R3,148.33.