Picture: SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES/AFP
Picture: SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES/AFP

The JSE was on track for its sixth consecutive gain on Thursday, but faced both weaker Asian markets and lower commodity prices.

Activity is expected to be subdued by the Easter holidays, with the all share closed on Friday and Monday.

Asian markets were reacting to losses on Wall Street overnight. In morning trade the Shanghai Composite was down 0.6%, Japan's Nikkei 0.23% and the Hang Seng 0.6%.

Commodity prices were mixed, with gold giving up 0.14% to $1,272.13/oz and platinum 0.75% to $882.88. Brent crude was 0.15% higher at $71.69 a barrel.

US markets failed to push higher on Wednesday, despite positive international data.

The US trade deficit fell to an eight-month low in February, while a report from China earlier in the day showed that the country grew 6.4% in the first quarter, defying forecasts for a slowdown. Attention is now turning to how much more stimulus Beijing will apply without triggering more financial risks.

Signs were also no encouraging on Thursday for some JSE heavyweights, with diversified miner BHP down over 2% in trade on the Australian stock exchange, while Tencent was down more than 1% in Hong Kong.

On Wednesday, BHP had lost 3.03% on the all share, having earlier revised its iron ore production guidance downwards, as a result of a hurricane that hit Western Australia in March.

Tencent may weigh on Naspers, which will need to give up more than 0.84% in order to snap 10 consecutive weeks of gains.

There is some economic news on Thursday to look forward to, including producer inflation data for March at 11.30am.

According to macroeconomics website Trading Economics, producer inflation is expected to have moderated to 4.6% in March from February's 4.7%.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za