Monday's public holiday helped the JSE sidestep a global slump  in which the S&P 500 fell 2.1%, but the pain may have only been delayed.

Unless the traditional “Santa Claus rally” in the last few trading days of 2018 lifts the S&P 500 by more than 4.8%, US stocks are going to record a negative year measured by their key benchmark index.

Image: Iress

The JSE top 40 is down 13% for the year-to-date, meaning the local bourse will need a miracle this Christmas to save 2018.

Asian markets indicated that the JSE was more likely to get a visit from the Grinch than Santa on Tuesday.

The JSE top 40's largest constituent, Naspers, tends to track its main asset, Tencent, which was down 2.33% to HK$301.60 in Hong Kong.

But the top 40's second largest constituent, BHP, was up 0.43% to A$33.68 in Sydney.

One of the reasons for the gloomy tone in markets is that the US Federal Reserve is expected to announce a 25 basis-points interest-rate increase at 7pm South African time on Wednesday, taking the ceiling of its target range to 2.5%.

Yet another Twitter tirade against central bank independence by US President Donald Trump on Monday added to the mounting worries over how badly the world's largest economy was being managed.

The rand was relatively unchanged from Friday's levels on Tuesday morning, trading at R14.36/$, R16.30/€ and R18.13/£ at 6.55am.