The JSE opened flat on Tuesday with a weaker bias on softer Chinese markets and after the Dow ended Monday in the red, with US retail sales in September coming in lower than expected.

Resources were lower on a firmer rand which was at R14.3259 to the dollar from R14.3648. Banks and financials were higher. Food and drug retailers rose on upbeat interim results from Pick n Pay. 

The Shanghai Composite slipped 0.85% and the Hang Seng 0.23%.

Producer price inflation growth in China slowed to an annual 3.6% in September, declining for the third month in a row. At the same time consumer inflation is rising after the yuan depreciated 9% from June to August.

"This is a clear indication of the impact the trade war between the US and China is having on China's economy," FxPro analysts said.

Chinese manufacturers have to reduce prices in the fight for market share against the backdrop of higher US tariffs, "which promises to gain momentum in the upcoming months", FxPro said.

Global trade was also cautious as Saudi Arabia threatened it may use its role as a major oil producer in the continued diplomatic tension between the US and Saudi Arabia, after Saudi Arabia hinted that a "rogue killer unit" might have inadvertently murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the country's Istanbul consulate.

Brent crude softened 0.35% to $80.47 a barrel in early-morning trade.

At 9.32am the all share was 0.05% up at 52,492.30 points and the top 40 lost 0.07%. Food and drug retailers rose 1.01%, platinums 0.68%, banks 0.65% and financials 0.43%. The gold index slipped 1.23% and resources 0.54%.

Anglo American lost 1.42% to R316.93, while Sasol added 0.51% to R524.50.

Sibanye-Stillwater dropped 1.44% to R12.33.

Nedbank rose 1.51% to R236.54 and Absa 0.6% to R146.65.

Pick n Pay was 4.33% up at R67.95. Normalised headline earnings per share (HEPS) rose 17% for the 26 weeks to August 26. The interim dividend rose 17.1%.

Emira Property Fund rose 3.09% to R15.36.

Naspers lost 0.37% to R2,740.12 after Tencent slipped 2.4% in Hong Kong trade.

Famous Brands recovered 2.21% to R95.26.