Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

SA stocks could open mixed on Friday, in line with Asian markets and ahead of Naspers’s annual financial results, which are due later in the day.

Asian stocks were generally lower on Friday amid rising tensions in the Middle East. Following attacks on tanker ships in the region last week, a US drone was allegedly shot down by an Iranian missile on Thursday. According to media reports, US President Donald Trump then approved strikes on Iran, but backed down on that plan shortly after.

While the S&P 500 index closed at a record high overnight, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 0.3% down on Friday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.7%, and Australia’s main benchmark fell 0.6%. Korea’s Kospi edged 0.3% lower, although China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.6%.

Chinese internet and gaming giant Tencent was 0.7% down in Hong Kong. Major shareholder and Africa’s largest public company Naspers is due to report annual results on Friday. The technology investor said last week earnings in the year to end-March grew by up to a third.

Core headline earnings per share from total operations, a metric that strips out nonoperational items, increased by between 31% and 33%, the group said in a trading statement.

Meanwhile, shares in JSE-heavyweight BHP Group were 0.2% up in Australia.

On Thursday night, SA President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a state of the nation address, which analysts said lacked substance.

“We don’t believe this will ignite sustainable ‘Ramaphoria’, believe business and real investors will remain sceptical, and so keep our growth forecasts the same,” said Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital markets research at Intellidex.

There were no specifics on Eskom, which is due to receive much of its R230bn bailout early, and this was disappointing, said Montalto.

“Overall we don’t see economic sentiment shifting higher after today until actual implementation is begun,” he said.

No major data releases are expected locally on Friday. Elsewhere, purchasing managers indices are due in Japan, Germany, Europe and the US.

The rand was broadly flat compared to Thursday night, at R14.33/$, R18.20/£ and R16.19/€.