Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK
Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK

The JSE was slightly higher on Thursday morning, as rand weakness continued, while most global equities markets pushed a little higher.

The rand earlier hit an intraday worst of R14.9628/$, under pressure from a series of poor local economic data releases this week, as well as political uncertainty related to the Reserve Bank.

Contradictory statements regarding the Bank's mandate have dented confidence towards SA, analysts say, even as investors await announcements regarding Eskom's finances, as well as other policy changes from the new cabinet.

Disappointing GDP data on Tuesday has dented the outlook for local stocks, but rand hedges and miners have found a little support from the weaker currency. Miners benefit as their product is sold in dollars.

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US stocks pushed higher overnight on hopes that the US Federal Reserve will cut interest rates. A US jobs report on Wednesday disappointed, and equities were benefiting from expectations of further stimulus from the Fed, Vestact analysts said.

Meanwhile European markets were firmer on Thursday ahead of a European Central Bank (ECB) interest rate announcement at 2.45pm SA time.

Expectations are that the ECB may be dovish, due to weak inflation and signs of slowing growth in the eurozone. The ECB is expected to provide details of previously announced stimulus, and the question is just how generous this will be, BK Asset Management MD of foreign-exchange strategy Kathy Lien said.

Local focus is on current-account data for the first quarter, with expectations that SA's deficit widened a little.

At 10am the all share was up 0.25% to 57,216 points and the top 40 0.23%. Platinums added 2.06% and industrials 0.34%. Property stocks fell 0.11%.

The rand was 0.15% softer at R14.888/$, having earlier reached an eight-month low.

Gold was up 0.34% to $1,334.74/oz and platinum 0.18% to $806.75. Brent crude was up 0.26% to $60.74 a barrel.

UK industrial landlord Stenprop was flat at R21.20. It said earlier that net rental income rose to £33.9m in the year to end-March from £32.9m in the prior comparative period, though profit after tax fell to £23.8m from £39.4m.

Rand hedge British American Tobacco rose 1.13% to R541.86.

In Asia earlier, the Shanghai composite fell 1.17%, but Japan's Nikkei gained 1.8%.

In Europe on Thursday morning, the FTSE 100 had added 0.51%, the CAC 40 0.43% and the DAX 30 0.17%.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za