JSE. Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK
JSE. Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK

The JSE was sharply lower in early morning trading on Thursday, reflecting poor investor sentiment towards risky assets.

The all share was down 1.38% to 50,855.60, as top 40 shed 1.49%, as investors sold banks, retailers and other big industrial stocks, as well resources, to name but a few.

Sasol shares fell another 1.96% to R408.98, bringing stock losses for the quarter to 25%, hurt by the continual slide in oil prices.

The local share market sold off in sympathy with other global equity markets, as the US Federal Reserve's outlook on interest rates disappointed investors.

"The decision to raise interest rates by 25 basis points was widely anticipated and priced in most asset classes, so it is not the rate hike itself that upset investors," said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM.

"Investors were expecting a more dovish tone from [Fed chair Jerome] Powell given the sharp fall in equity markets and challenging global macroeconomic conditions. All they got was a less hawkish tone."

The higher US rates tend to detract from the allure of equities. The Fed's statement came at the time when markets were concerned about the health of the global economy.

"I think the markets priced in too good news going into the Fed's meeting, hence they are coming back to earth," said Rob Pietropaolo, analyst at Unum Capital.

Asian stocks fell sharply, with Japan's Nikkei 225 settling nearly 3% lower and Hong Kong's Hang Seng's down 1.40%.

Media and internet group Naspers, which makes up a fifth of the all share, was down 1.88% to R2,766.88. 

Africa's biggest drug maker Aspen Pharmacare slipped 2.21% to R130.23.

Diversified industrial heavyweight Barloworld shed 2.47% to R113.57 while investment group Remgro lost 1.96% to R188.51.

Vodacom Group lost 2.07% to R127.92 while Shoprite shed 1.73% to R183.21.

AngloGold Ashanti was down 2.23% to R175.47 and Gold Fields 3.85% to R45.76

Absa Group was off 2.28% to R155.68 and Nedbank R2.05% to R261.95. Sanlam slid 2.27% to R75.30 and Discovery 2.11% to R152.26.