Financial services stocks helped push the JSE slightly higher on Thursday morning, amid mixed trade in global markets, as investors shifted their attention to trade negotiations.

CNBC reported on Wednesday that the US and China could announce a trade deal by next Friday, ending a prolonged period of discussions that have stoked uncertainty.

While markets in Japan and China were closed for holidays on Thursday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.83% and Korea’s main benchmark 0.42%. Australia’s main index, however, was 0.59% lower and the Stoxx Europe 600 was down 0.20%.

At 11am, the JSE all-share index was 0.26% higher at 58,682 points, with the top-40 index up 0.27%. Financials had gained 1.25%, while resources and property stocks were lower.

Investec Ltd gained 3.32% to R94.38, Liberty 2.35% to R105.93, Sanlam 1.86% to R77.92, and Nedbank 1.80% at R270.86.

EOH continued its post-results recovery, rallying 14.05% to R23.29.

RCL Foods leapt 5.45% to R14.50.

Sibanye was among the biggest losers, falling 4.39% to R12.86, its worst level since early February. 

Steinhoff, which said after the market closed on Tuesday thatit would impair goodwill and intangible assets for the period to September 2017 by an additional €1.8bn, was 4.88% lower at R1.95.

Data published on Thursday showed that factory conditions in SA had stabilised somewhat. The seasonally-adjusted Absa purchasing managers index (PMI) rose 2.2 points to 47.2 in April — the first increase after three months’ of declines in the headline PMI. The index, however, remains below the neutral 50-point mark.

Gold was down 0.47% to $1,270.73/oz and platinum 0.73% to $861.76. Brent crude had fallen 0.62% to $71.66 a barrel.

The rand, which weakened on Wednesday after the US Federal Reserve indicated that rate cuts are off the table for the time being, was 0.2% stronger against the dollar at R14.42. It was flat against the pound and euro at R18.83 and R16.16, respectively.

“We expect the rand to run into some resistance at the R14.50/$ level, and settle in the mid R14.40s,” said Andre Botha, dealer at TreasuryOne. “However, we are in the final stretches of the election process and the market will be on tenterhooks for any headlines that could cause the rand to wobble some more.” He said Investors would shift their attention to US non-farm payroll numbers on Friday.