Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

The JSE opened weaker on Wednesday, just holding above 53,000 points, despite strong performances from global markets on Tuesday.

Mediclinic was an early casualty on a disappointing trading update, plummeting nearly 20%, while Naspers was on the back foot again after closing higher on Tuesday.

The Dow gained 2.17% on Tuesday on upbeat third-quarter company results, mainly from financial institutions. 

Asian markets rose  on Wednesday, with the Nikkei 225 lifting 1.29% and the Shanghai Composite 0.6%. The Hang Seng was closed.

European markets were slightly higher despite analysts having little hope for a breakthrough on Brexit at the EU summit set to start on Wednesday.

Earlier strength in the rand failed to support banks and financials, with retail stocks trending lower ahead of the release of August sales growth data later in the day. It is expected to come in at 0.5% from 1.3% in the previous month, with analysts expecting the sector to remain lacklustre for the rest of the year.

The rand was at R14.2391 to the dollar from R14.1646 after earlier firming to R14.1533.

Gold stocks failed to hold on to earlier momentum as the gold price dropped 0.20% to $1.222.27 an ounce after earlier hitting a three-month high.

Brent crude was flat at $81.60 an ounce.

Market focus was on the release of the US Federal Reserve's minutes adopted at the last meeting of the federal open market committee (FOMC).

"The Fed has received some backlash from President Donald Trump on hiking interest rates to fast but a hawkish tone is likely to continue to complement the expected hiking path," said TreasuryOne currency dealer Gerard van der Westhuizen.

The minutes are set to be released after the JSE's close.

At 9.44am the all share was 0.4% lower at 53,026.40 points and the top 40 lost 0.38%. The gold index dropped 2.82%, platinums 1.45%, banks 0.8%, general retailers 0.52% and industrials 0.41%.

BHP was 0.32% off at R297.25. Copper production rose 2% for the quarter to end-September.

Sasol rose 0.22% to R529.44.

British American Tobacco rose 0.82% to R607.26.

Remgro lost 2.65% to R188.27.

FirstRand dropped 1.52% to R62.73 and Absa 0.91% to R148.20.

Dis-Chem Pharmacies rose 4.42% to R28.82. Revenue rose 9.4% to R10.5bn for the six months to end-August.

Capital & Regional dropped 3.97% to R7.02 among property stocks.

Naspers lost 0.83% to R2,797.73.

Mediclinic was 18.93% lower at R73.04. It expects all-round earnings from local and international operations to come in lower than 2017's figure.