JSE. Picture: REUTERS
JSE. Picture: REUTERS

The JSE opened flat on Wednesday ahead of what is likely to be a long weekend for many investors, with National Women’s Day falling on Thursday.

Volumes were even lower at the opening than what the market had become accustomed to over the past few months, just exceeding R1bn.

There are volumes of about R12bn on an average trading day on the JSE now, from a previous average of about R22bn.

Gold stocks led at the opening on a marginally weaker dollar, while food and drug retailers gained on a steady rand, which was at R13.30 to the dollar.

The Dow closed 0.5% higher on Tuesday with tech, financials and energy stocks outperforming. Amazon was the biggest contributor to the S&P500, adding 0.80%, with Tesla jumping 11% after founder Elon Musk said he was considering taking the carmaker private.

Asian markets found some support on Wednesday morning on suggestions from the Chinese central bank that further weakness in the yuan was not a one-way bet.

"Locally, the markets are heading into a public holiday, and, as a result, liquidity is likely to be tested," Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking analysts said.

Brent crude edged 0.23% up at $74.65 a barrel.

At 9.45am the all share was 0.10% down at 57,647 points and the top 40 dropped 0.15%. Industrials shed 0.19% and resources 0.18%. Food and drug retailers rose 0.63%, the gold index 0.62% and banks 0.32%.

BHP was 0.55% lower at R297.80, despite gaining in Australian trade. It was announced earlier that the joint venture with Brazil’s Vale was expected to obtain all licences needed to resume operations, which were suspended after a 2015 deadly mud slide.

Manufacturing companies rebounded from weak sectoral growth reported on Tuesday. Remgro was up 0.42% to R214.53 and Barloworld 0.28% to R134.78.

Absa rose 1.22% to R168 and Nedbank 0.6% to R261.69.

Shoprite rose 0.79% to R220.21.

Fortress B rebounded 2.19% to R15.84 among property stocks.

MTN was 3.93% lower at R109.63 after the group announced a lower dividend. The group’s interim revenue was down 3% to R63bn and its net profit declined 5% to R4.9bn.

Naspers slipped 0.41% to R3,315.17.