File picture: SUNDAY TIMES
File picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The JSE opened flat on Friday as a surging dollar kept risk-off sentiment alive. The market is awaiting further US data later in the day, which might support a more hawkish stance from the US Federal Reserve.

Resources led at the opening, but gold stocks retreated on the stronger greenback. Retailers and banks were in the red.

Crucial nonfarm payroll data will be released in the US on Friday afternoon, and the market is expecting job growth of 193,000 in July, marginally down from the previous month’s 213,000.

The market is also predicting that the US unemployment rate will edge down to 3.9% from 4%. A better number is expected to put further pressure on emerging-market currencies, with the rand trading at about R13.50 to the dollar at the JSE’s opening.

The euro weakened below the crucial $1.16 level earlier, hitting $1.1577 before recovering somewhat.

The rand, along with its emerging-market peers — especially the yuan and Turkish lira — have come under sustained pressure over the past few days.

"Talk of an escalation in the trade war between China and the US remain the primary driver, and markets are likely to be cautious ahead of the US data," Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking analysts said.

Analysts reckon the dollar could pick up further momentum, spelling further weakness for the rand.

The Bank of England’s increase in rates on Thursday did not support the pound, with the monetary policy committee expected to continue its stance of marginally increasing rates further, despite increased inflationary pressures.

The Dow closed flat with Asian markets seeking direction in an unsettled environment. The Nikkei rose 0.06% but the Hang Seng lost 0.14%. Tencent was up more than 1%, but Naspers showed little reaction in local trade, despite the weaker rand. It was up 0.12% to R3,179.01.

At 9.32am the all share was 0.06% higher at 56,504.20 points and the top 40 has risen 0.13%. Resources added 0.94%. General retailers shed 1.58%, the gold index 1.05%, property 0.83%, banks 0.77% and financials 0.57%.

ArcelorMittal jumped 6.27% to R4.24, bringing gains for the month to 37% following recent results that showed the bombed-out local steel producer was profitable again.

Sibanye-Stillwater rose 2.78% to R8.50.

FirstRand lost 1.02% to R66.65 and Standard Bank 0.81% to R195.04.

Liberty Holdings shed 1.77% to R116.28.

Massmart was down 1.54% to R112.80 and Woolworths 0.73% to R50.57.

Nepi Rockcastle dropped 1.4% to R117.33.

Mondi rocketed 7.05% to R385.74 after interim results beat market expectations. Basic underlying earnings rose 26% to end-June.