An investor sits in front of displays showing stock information at a brokerage office in Beijing, China. Picture: REUTERS/THOMAS PETER
An investor sits in front of displays showing stock information at a brokerage office in Beijing, China. Picture: REUTERS/THOMAS PETER

Asian markets are pointing towards a lower opening for the JSE on Thursday, which is set to be another busy day for the local bourse in terms of company results.

At least four top-40 counters are due to report, including Standard Bank Group, MTN, Sanlam and Aspen Pharmacare.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 0.5% lower at the lunch break, while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index was 0.8% down.

After a three-day rally, Naspers’s associate company, Tencent, was 1.2% lower in Hong Kong, suggesting that Africa’s largest public company will open in the red.

Similarly, JSE-heavyweight BHP Group was 0.7% down in Australia.

MTN, whose shares have declined for eight consecutive days, is set to report its 2018 numbers early on Thursday.

A week ago, the mobile operator disappointed the market by saying its headline earnings per share (HEPS) in the year ended December would be between 80% and 90% higher than in 2017. Analysts had expected a higher increase, given that the numbers were coming off a low base.

Sanlam and Standard Bank are also due to report their annual results early in the day, while Aspen’s interim numbers are due after the market’s close.

On the local data front, SA’s foreign-exchange reserve numbers, as well as the country’s balance of payments statistics, are due on Thursday morning.

Ahead of those releases, the rand was 0.07% firmer against the dollar at R14.25/$. Versus the pound, the local currency was 0.05% stronger at R18.78/£ and against the euro it was 0.09% better at R16.11/€.