US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell. Picture: REUTERS
US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell. Picture: REUTERS

SA’s main bourse is set for a cautious start on Thursday as investors dissect minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting, and ahead of a highly anticipated meeting of monetary policy officials.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve minutes showed that the central bank sees policy-easing measures as “a prudent step from a risk-management perspective” and “part of a recalibration … or mid-cycle adjustment”.

But the views of its members varied, with some calling for more aggressive rate cuts and others advocating for no change. US President Donald Trump wants the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates sharply, with some economists saying an economic recession is on the horizon.

Financial markets “will be digesting” the Fed’s minutes on Thursday and awaiting Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell’s speech on Friday at a meeting of monetary policy officials, analysts at OCBC Bank in Singapore said in a note.

While US stocks gained ground overnight, Asian markets were mixed on Thursday morning.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was 0.9% down at the lunch break, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.2%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was flat and Korea’s Kospi fell 0.4%. But Australia’s main benchmark advanced 0.4%.

Shares in Chinese internet and gaming giant Tencent, which is 31% owned by Naspers, were flat in Hong Kong.

JSE-listed mining giant BHP Group was 0.5% higher in Australia.

Meanwhile, Exxaro Resources is due to publish half-year results on Thursday. The group said recently headline earnings per share for the six months to end-June rose between 35% and 47%.

Italtile is expected to report annual results. The maker of tiles and sanitary ware, whose retail brands include CTM, has said headline earnings per share increased by between 6% and 8% in the year to end-June.

In terms of data releases, the US is due to publish initial jobless claims, while purchasing managers’ indices are expected from the US and Europe. The EU will release consumer confidence figures.

The rand was trading at R15.25/$, R18.48/£ and 16.90/€ on Thursday morning.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za