The JSE all share failed to find support from stronger retail sales data on Wednesday as global risk-off trade dominated sentiment, dragging the whole market down.

The retail sales data raised the prospects of higher economic growth in 2018, but a steady rand failed to lift banking and financial shares.

Market heavyweight Naspers was again on the back foot, extending losses for the year to more than 20% after recovering briefly in choppy trade over the past few days.

The market was awaiting the minutes from the US Federal Reserve's federal open market committee (FOMC) amid concerns that the Fed would overplay its hand by hiking rates in a low-inflationary environment, with GDP growth already likely to be at a peak.

The euro weakened against the dollar as the likelihood dimmed of a Brexit deal at the EU summit in Brussels.

"Over the next few days investors will be keeping a very close eye on the EU summit, which could provide some direction on Brexit. With a deadlock on the Northern Ireland border issue seen as a major obstacle in Brexit talks, there is little hope for a breakthrough at the EU summit," wrote Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM, in a note on Wednesday.

Local growth in retail sales accelerated to an annual 2.5% in August, from 1.4% in July and higher than the market forecast of 0.3%.

"The stronger-than-expected figures were encouraging and will boost third-quarter growth given that consumer spending accounts for about 60% of GDP," Nedbank analysts said.

Brent crude dropped sharply after an industry report showed an unexpected drop in US crude stockpiles. The market continues to shrug off simmering tension between the US and Saudi Arabia following the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, amid reports that he was murdered.

Brent crude was 2.5% lower at $79.58 a barrel soon after the JSE's close.

The gold price recovered in late trade after a sluggish opening earlier, firming 0.15% to $1,226.54 an ounce.

The Dow was 1.08% lower at the JSE's close.

The all share closed 1.6% lower at 52,391 points and the top 40 lost 1.79%. Banks dropped 2.36%, general retailers 2.15%, the gold index 1.95%, industrials 1.74%, resources 1.65% and financials 1.28%.

Naspers dropped 2.26% to R2,757.15.

Dis-Chem Pharmacies rose 1.09% to R27.90. Revenue rose 9.4% to R10.5bn for the six months to end-August.

Mediclinic was 16.9% lower at R73.96 after earlier issuing a disappointing trading update. It expects all-round earnings from local and international operations to come in lower than 2017's figure.

The rand was last seen at R14.2220 to the dollar from R14.1646. The R186 was bid at 9.135% from 9.165%.