Picture: SUNDAY TIMES.
Picture: SUNDAY TIMES.

The JSE fell on Wednesday, amid fears of an escalation of the US-China trade war, which has dealt a blow to investor sentiment the world over.

The trade war has put a damper on global markets as concerns over slowing global economic growth rise.

The all share fell 0.3% to 53,915.2 points and the top 40 0.44%, while platinum miners added 3.39%, the gold index 0.67%, general retailers 0.41% and banks 0.27%. Industrials fell 0.9%.

Lower global growth forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a fresh set of weak economic data from China earlier in the week continue to weigh on investor sentiment. Reports that US officials had cancelled trade talks with China scheduled for later this week, added to the uncertainty. 

“Overnight there have been rumours doing the rounds that the US-China trade talks have stalled and might have been canceled, which places us back in the tariff-war sphere,” TreasuryONE senior dealer Andre Botha said.

Naspers was in the red, falling 3.18% to R3,050, tracking some of the losses by Hong Kong-listed associate Tencent, which fell 0.77%. The drop came as titles from the tech group were left off the list of games approved by Chinese regulators for the third time as authorities announced another batch of new game approvals following a freeze in 2018.

Trading ex-dividend Lewis Group fell 3.94% to R31.22.

Long4Life dropped 3.35% to R4.62 following an announcement on Tuesday that two of its directors had sold their shares in the company.

Imperial Logistics rose 5.49% to R72.43 after announcing that its CEO Marius Swanepoel will depart earlier than previously expected. The group says former Imperial Holdings CFO Mohammed Akoojee will take over on February 1.

Local consumer inflation eased to 4.5%, the mid-point of the Reserve Bank’s 3% to 6% target range, in December, aided by a large drop in the petrol price. Analysts maintain that the market is now pricing in only a 50% chance of an interest-rate increase in 2019, further warning that the Bank’s stance may be a little too dovish.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV in Davos on Tuesday, Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago said anchoring inflation at the mid-point of its 3% to 6% target range allows the central bank the flexibility to deal with price shocks.

Shortly after the JSE closed, the Dow was up 1.02% at 24,655.17 points, while in Europe the FTSE 100 had lost 0.44%, while the CAC 40 had risen 0.49%, and the DAX 30 was up 0.3%.

Gold fell 0.39% at $1,280.02/oz while platinum climbed 0.17% to $791.17. Brent crude was 0.33% lower at $61.19 a barrel.

The rand was 0.97% stronger at R13.8366/$, 075% up at R15.7479/€, and 0.14% firmer at R18.0829/£. The euro was 0.21% higher at $1.1384.

menons@businesslive.co.za