JSE. Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK
JSE. Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK

The JSE could take its lead from subdued Asian markets on Friday morning, with focus shifting again to the US-China trade war, with expectations a partial trade deal may be signed next week.

China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday that the initial phase-one agreement is expected to be signed next week in Washington. US President Donald Trump said in December that the deal could be concluded on January 15.

This had boosted sentiment, analysts said, though events in the Middle East have dominated the headlines this week, as Iran retaliated with missile strikes against Iraqi bases containing US troops after the killing of one of its senior military commanders.

Though both sides have indicated they do not want an escalation in the conflict, the market remained sensitive to headlines from the region, said AxiTrader chief Asia market strategist Stephen Innes in a note.

Reports on Friday suggested that an Iranian surface-to-air missile may be responsible for the downing of a Ukrainian airliner.

Asian markets were mixed on Friday morning, with the Shanghai Composite down 0.26%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat.

Tencent was up 1.8% in Hong Kong, and could boost the JSE, as market heavyweight Naspers is the largest shareholder of the WeChat owner.

Gold had lost 0.36% to $1,546.56/oz while platinum had given up 0.16% to $964.46/oz. Brent crude was 0.18% down at $65.14 a barrel.

The rand was flat at R14.21/$.

There is little on the local corporate or economic calendar.

International focus remains on the Middle East and any trade-war related headlines.

US nonfarm payrolls numbers of December will be closely watched later, as they give an indication of future US monetary policy.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za