Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

The JSE was weaker on Thursday morning as concern about US-China trade tension remained at the fore.

At the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Wednesday Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan alluded to President Donald Trump’s economic policies, warning that the international order was under assault from “unilateralism, protectionism and populism”.

“We reject the practices of the strong bullying the weak and self-claimed supremacy,” he said.

At the same time, reports show that China is considering buying up to 7-million tons of US wheat to reduce the two countries’ bilateral goods trade imbalance.

The fear of slowing global growth, particularly in China, has kept markets volatile as analysts warn that demand for a wide range of commodities and products could weaken this year.

Close attention will be paid to the US government shutdown, now one-month long — the longest on record. The US Senate will vote on Thursday night on ending the shutdown, which could trigger volatility in the market.

At 10.30am the JSE all share index was down 0.8% to 53,482  points and the top 40 was down 0.95% to 47,286. Industrials continued their slide, falling 1.38%, while banks were up 0.4% and general retailers 0.44%.

Naspers dropped 1.37% to R3,050, tracking its Hong Kong-listed associate, Tencent, which lost 0.77% to HK$330.20. Titles from the tech group were left off the list of games approved by Chinese regulators again as authorities announced another batch of new game following a freeze in 2018.

Vodacom fell 6.83% to R120.75 after the company reported that it lost about 337,000 prepaid customers while gaining 86,000 contract customers over the three months to end-December — this resulted in an overall 0.6% quarterly decline in SA customer numbers to 43.8-million.

Aspen Pharmacare fell 1.81% to R154.20.

TFG was up 1.2% to R168 and Pick n Pay 0.77% to R72.98. Pioneer Foods increased 2.14% to R84.99.

Gold was down 0.17% at $1,280.46/oz and platinum 0.36% to $792.5.

At the same time, the rand was mixed. It was 0.04% softer at R13.8191/$ 0.4% and 0.07% stronger to the pound at R18.0416/£ and 0.03% stronger at R15.7182/€. The euro was 0.06% weaker at $1.1374.

menons@businesslive.co.za