Picture: MICHAEL BRATT
Picture: MICHAEL BRATT

The JSE looked set to start the week on the back foot on Monday morning, with Asian markets sharply lower amid intensifying political protests in Hong Kong, and decreasing confidence of deep US Federal Reserve interest rate cuts later in July.

Markets have lowered their expectations of a 50 basis point cut at the Fed’s July 31 meeting, with some recent upbeat US data calling into question the need for such an accommodative stance from the world’s most influential central bank.

Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong also weighed on Asian markets on Monday morning, while locally a battle between Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and President Cyril Ramaphosa was also threatening local sentiment.

But if I had to quantify the equity market risk, it’s 90% Fed policy, and 10% geopolitical worries as investors remain wholly captivated by the looser the policy, the better the risk opportunities,” Vanguard Markets managing partner Stephen Innes said in a note.

Tencent was almost half a percent lower in Hong Kong trade on Monday morning, boding ill for market heavyweight Naspers, which owns almost a third of the Chinese media giant.

At 6.55am the Shanghai Composite was down 0.57% while the Hang Seng had dropped 0.77%.

Gold was up 0.14% to $1,427.41/oz while platinum was up 0.54% to $849.57. Brent crude was 0.68% higher at $63.24 a barrel.

Tension in the Middle East also poses a risk to global markets, with the seizure of a UK oil tanker by Iran threatening to escalate tension in the Persian Gulf, through which about 20% of the world’s oil supply is transported.

There is nothing on the local economic calendar on Monday, but in terms of corporate news Anglo American Platinum is set to release its interim results for the period to end-June.

The miner said earlier in July it expected headline earnings per share for the period to rise by at least 80%, with the company’s results lifted by surging platinum group metal prices.

Amplats’s share price has risen 54.43% so far in 2019, while the JSE’s platinum index has risen 67.32% — compared with the all share’s 10.45% gain.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za