Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK
Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK

The JSE tracked global markets lower on Monday amid concerns that the US-China trade war will get worse before it gets better.

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to meet at the G20 summit later this week, with the dollar under some pressure in the interim. The chances of a trade deal between the two countries remain slim, said London Capital Group senior market analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya.

Gold was benefiting from investor interest in safe-haven assets, as well as from the weaker dollar, but local banks and retailers were under pressure.

The all share fell 0.31% to 58,756 points and the top 40 0.27%. General retailers lost 1.61% and banks 1.3%. Gold miners added 3.33%.

Shortly after the JSE closed the Dow had fallen 0.13% to 26,719.13 points. In Europe, the FTSE 100 was up 0.2%, while the CAC 40 was flat. The DAX 30 was down 0.57%.

Gold was up 1.22% to $1,415.70 an ounce and platinum 0.14% at $811.08. Brent crude was 1.13% lower at $64.55 a barrel.

Concern over an escalation in tension in the Middle East was also subduing sentiment. Last week, the US held off on military strikes following Iran’s destruction of a US drone, although the White House has indicated that it will ultimately retaliate, probably through the implementation of further sanctions.

Diversified miner Anglo American gained 1.48% to R396.59 and BHP 1% to R359.96.

Sasol lost 1.88% to R365.06.

Rand hedge Richemont was up 1.33% to R121.70.

Standard Bank fell 1.51% to R203.19, FirstRand 1.39% to R69.50 and Absa 1.09% to R179.50.

Life Healthcare relinquished 1.2% to R22.32. It said earlier that it had raised about R3.7bn by selling its 49.7% stake in Max Healthcare Institute in India.

Woolworths dropped 1.97% to R48.23, TFG 1.58% to R182, Truworths 1.51% to R74.35, Massmart 1.4% to R63.50 and Mr Price 1.26% to R205.51.

Shares in the JSE fell 9.57% to R133.92, their biggest one-day drop since listing in mid-2006. The company said earlier that it expected headline earnings per share to fall by between 25% and 35% in the six months to end-June compared with a year earlier, citing among other factors, a decline in trading activity. 

Local focus on Tuesday is on first-quarter nonfarm payrolls data, with expectations that employment growth was subdued, due to depressed economic activity. SA’s GDP contracted 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019, compared with the last three months of 2018.

Job losses will serve to aggravate the financial pressure many households are already experiencing, said Investec economist Lara Hodes in a note on Friday. “A notable uptick in business confidence, which would assist in driving investment, is required to enhance employment rates.”

Some focus will also be on parliament, where MPs will debate President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation (Sona) speech, delivered last week. Analysts have welcomed the upbeat tone of the speech, although they noted it was light on details of how the government plans to re-ignite economic growth or deal with the mountains of debt at state-owned enterprises.

Ramaphosa is set to respond to the Sona debate on Wednesday.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za