Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI / THE SUNDAY TIMES
Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI / THE SUNDAY TIMES

The JSE weakened on Thursday morning, although platinum miners continued their gains, amid further signs that the US-China trade war was damaging global economic prospects.

As the Chinese manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) earlier fell to a three-year low, while investors were also digesting comments from US officials that a trade deal with China in coming weeks was not assured.

This was putting pressure on sentiment, analysts said, with focus now shifting to economic data releases, including the local balance of trade figures for January, and US GDP numbers for the fourth quarter of 2018.

At 10am the all share was down 0.72% at 55,892.3 points and the top 40 0.81%. General retailers were down 1.22%, banks 1.13%, industrials 0.77% and food and drug retailers 1.08%. Platinum miners were up 2.67%.

Gold was up 0.16% at $1,321.71/oz while platinum was flat at $868.78. Brent crude was down 0.54% at $65.96 a barrel.

There was a series of corporate releases on Thursday morning, most of which were disappointing the market.

A strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) that was due to begin across the gold sector on Thursday evening is also on hold. Gold miners have sought to interdict the strike, with the labour court reserving judgment on the matter after hearing arguments on Wednesday.

Diversified miner BHP had fallen 1.41% to R329.50 and Anglo American 1.33% to R373.97.

Sasol had added 1.34% to R432.02.

AB InBev had jumped 3.97% to R1,080.18, having earlier reported that revenue grew 4.8% in the year to end-December.

British American Tobacco fell 2.69% to R506.12, despite having said that adjusted revenue grew 3.5% in the year to end-December, while adjusted earnings per share grew 11.8% year on year.

Blue Label Telecoms fell 5.72% to R5.77, having said earlier that gross profit grew 15% to R1.31bn in the six months to end-November, although it swung into a headline loss per share of 15.02c, compared to headline earnings per share (HEPS) of 166.86c in the prior comparative period.

Liberty Holdings fell 1% to R102, having reported earlier that normalised HEPS fell 16.7% to 817.9c in the year to end-December.

Massmart slumped 5.25% to R88.21. It reported earlier that headline earnings before restructuring costs fell 22.9% to R1bn in the year to end-December. The retailers lashed its dividend 40.1% to 208c per share.

Spur was unchanged at R21.75. It earlier reported that its restaurant sales grew 6.5% in the six months to end-December. This figure, however, excluded sales from Captain Do Regos, which was disposed of in March 2018.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za