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

The JSE will probably open lower on Wednesday after UK MPs shot down Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan for the second time, sending Asian stocks lower as uncertainty mounted.

With only 17 days to go before Brexit is meant to happen, May’s plan to withdraw from the EU was heavily rejected by MPs. This raises the risk of a messy no-deal divorce between the UK and the EU.

Focus will now be on whether parliamentarians decide to go that route or ask for an extension to the break-up date.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 0.6% lower at the lunch break, with Naspers associate Tencent 0.8% down. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was 1.1% lower, and Australian stocks were 0.4% weaker.

JSE heavyweight BHP Group was 0.5% down in Australia.

The busy reporting season continues for SA’s main bourse on Wednesday, with top-40 constituent Growthpoint Properties scheduled to publish its interim results.

Another top-40 member, RMB Holdings, will also report.

Mpact is due to publish results for the year ended December. It said in February that its headline earnings per share (HEPS) would increase by between 15.5% and 21.6%.

MTN’s shares could react to news that its e-commerce associate, Jumia, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in New York. The mobile operator said recently it planned to offload noncore assets, such as Jumia, to raise at least R15bn.

Bloomberg News reported in February that an IPO would value Jumia at about $1.5bn.

Meanwhile, in the wake of May’s Brexit defeat, gold was slightly firmer while the rand was weaker.

Against the dollar, the rand was 0.17% weaker at R14.38/$. Versus the pound it was 0.24% worse at R18.82/£, and against the euro it was 0.12% weaker at R16.23.