US Fed chair Jerome Powell has warned of downside risks to the economy, but pushed back against pressure from President Donald Trump to cut interest rates. REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA
US Fed chair Jerome Powell has warned of downside risks to the economy, but pushed back against pressure from President Donald Trump to cut interest rates. REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA

SA stocks could be in for another subdued day of trading on Wednesday as caution prevails ahead of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Japan later this week.

US stocks fell overnight after Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell warned of downside risks to the economy, but pushed back against pressure from President Donald Trump to cut interest rates in order to counter the effects of his trade war.

Meanwhile, investors are wary of growing tensions between the US and Iran. They are also awaiting Trump’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at the G20 meeting, which starts on Friday.

“The US supposedly will not accept any further conditions on tariffs as part of reopening negotiations, but is said to be prepared to delay fresh tariffs for now,” analysts at Singapore’s OCBC Bank said on Wednesday.

Asian markets “may consolidate today”, the bank said, adding that investors are keeping an eye on interest rate decisions by central banks in the region.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was flat on Wednesday, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.2% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.6%. Korea’s Kospi was flat, as was Australia’s main benchmark.

Chinese internet and gaming giant Tencent, which influences the JSE via major shareholder Naspers, was flat in Hong Kong.

JSE heavyweight BHP Group was also flat in Australia.

Cement maker PPC is due to report annual results on Wednesday. The company said last week group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were expected to increase by between 0% and 7% from the R1.9bn reported in the prior year.

Headline earnings per share would increase by between 33% and 53% and gross debt levels had reduced, PPC said.

Sephaku will also report annual results.

Stats SA is due to publish a financial census of municipalities for 2018 and private-sector building statistics for the year. 

Elsewhere, the US is due to publish statistics on durable goods orders and wholesale inventories, while representatives from the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of England are due to speak. 

The rand was flat on Wednesday morning at R14.35/$, R18.19/£ and R16.29/€. 

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za