Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

Pressure on miners kept the JSE flat on Tuesday morning, with banks and financial stocks eking out gains despite overnight weakness in the rand.

The local currency weakened to R15.499/$ overnight, a new 2019 low, but was recovering on Tuesday morning.

The dollar has been in favour so far this week, despite a lack of major economic releases, BK Asset Management MD for foreign exchange Kathy Lien said in a note. “Instead, currencies continue to be driven by headline risk and the prospect of fiscal and monetary easing. For the US in particular, there's talk that the White House is considering a payroll tax cut to stimulate the economy,” she said.

Global markets were mixed on Tuesday morning, with attention fixed on upcoming events that should provide further clues towards future US Federal Reserve policy. Fed minutes are due on Wednesday, although Fed chair Jerome Powell's speech at the Jackson Hole conference in Wyoming on Friday is the week's major event.

At 9.40am, the all share was flat at 54,420.3 points while the top 40 had added 0.12%. Industrials were up 0.52% and banks 0.43%. Resources had lost 1.12% and gold miners 1.11%.

Gold was up 0.25% at $1,499.66/oz and platinum 0.3% to $853.79. Brent crude was 0.17% lower at $59.66 a barrel.

Sasol was down 1.14% at R270.60. The company has been battered recently after it said it would delay the release of its results in order to complete a probe into delays at its Lake Charles project in the US. S&P Global Ratings said on Monday that the delay indicated that further problems lay ahead for the chemicals giant.

Locally, there were a number of corporate releases to give the market direction.

Diversified miner BHP lost 1.64% to R326.73, despite having announced a record dividend of 133 US cents per share for the period to end-June, a 13% increase on the prior period. The mining giant, however, said an escalation of the US-China trade war was a downside risk, adding that the near-term economic prospects of the US were also uncertain.

Shoprite gave back 0.39% to R139.25. The retailer said earlier that merchandise sales rose 3.6% in the year to end-June, although trading profit fell 14.3% to R6.8bn as inflation in Angola continued to take its toll.

Long 4 Life gained 0.75% to R4.03, despite earlier saying it expected a decline in headline earnings per share for the six months to end-August.

Naspers was up 0.85% to R3,427.86.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za