Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

The JSE opened lower in cautious trade on Friday despite higher Asian markets, with platinums and industrials on the back foot.

However, banks and retailers gained on a slightly firmer rand. The rand was at R12.5164 to the dollar from R12.5994 at the opening.

The Dow slipped 0.22% on Thursday with escalating trade tensions and rising oil prices weighing on markets. The Nikkei 225 was up 0.4% on Friday morning and the Hang Seng 0.49%.

Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong stocks were buoyed on hopes that Beijing and Washington would reach a deal in the latest round of trade talks, analysts at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking said.

Tencent rose 0.6% in Hong Kong trade, but Naspers, which owns 31.2% of the Chinese game-downloading group, showed little reaction.

Weaker commodity prices weighed on the Australian ASX, with BHP and Rio Tinto both losing more than 1.5%.

Momentum Securities analysts said upbeat earnings in the US were still a vibrant driver of equity performance, even as the overall macroeconomic backdrop remained challenging from an inflation and yield perspective.

"Diminishing central bank support for the market continued to be a consistent consideration," they said.

Brent crude was off earlier highs above $80 a barrel at $79.547.

At 10am the all share was 0.46% lower at 57,919 points and the top 40 had lost 0.52%. The platinum index had shed 1.04%, industrials 1% and resources 0.22%. Banks had risen 0.81%, food and drug retailers 0.74% and financials 0.46%.

Sasol rose 0.28% to R480.10, extending gains for the month to 7.6%.

Richemont dropped 6.26% to R115.82.

Standard Bank rebounded 1.13% to R205.31.

Liberty was down 1.51% to R122.90. The group said in a statement on Friday that its retail division had secured R1.5bn worth of new business during the March quarter, which was 3% lower than the comparable period in 2017.

Steinhoff International rocketed 13.50% to R1.82 on optimism ahead of a meeting with lenders to restructure more than €10.4bn of debt.

Steinhoff Africa Retail (Star) added 0.41% to R17.32.

Nepi Rockcastle rose 1.21% to R125.50.

Naspers shed 0.19% to R3,198.06.

Famous Brands lost a further 0.93% to R102.04 after a disappointing trading update on Thursday.