Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

The JSE slipped on Thursday morning, tracking weaker global markets, as investors remain nervous about the potential economic effects of a coronavirus outbreak in China.

The death toll from the outbreak has increased to 17, while more than 500 people are infected, mostly in mainland China.

Investors remained anxious about the spread of a new flu-like virus in China just as millions prepared to travel for the Lunar New Year. Chinese authorities have begun quarantine measures in Wuhan city, which is the epicentre of the virus.

Earlier, the Shanghai Composite was down 2.75% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.52%.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 was down 0.27%, France’s CAC 40 0.23% and Germany’s DAX 30 0.62%.

“With Chinese New Year starting tomorrow, bringing in the year of the rat, Asia clearly smells one with regional markets ignoring a positive overnight session on Wall Street and marking equities sharply lower today,” said Oanda senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley.

“The coronavirus outbreak in China is obviously the culprit. The fallout of SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] in 2003 remains at the top of Asian investors’ minds,” Halley said.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) emergency committee is expected to meet in Geneva to assess the global risks posed by the virus and decide if it should be declared an international public health emergency, as happened with swine flu and Ebola.

At 12.24pm, the JSE all share was down 0.81% to 57,448 points and the top 40 was 0.97% lower. Platinum miners were down 0.25%, while gold miners were little changed. Banks were up 0.42% and financials 0.35%.

Gold was down 0.26% to $1,554.79/oz and platinum 1.31% to $1,005.74/oz. Brent crude was down 0.29% to $62.52 a barrel.

Anglo American Platinum was down 1.35% to R1,230, having said earlier that Eskom-related blackouts during 2019 cost it more than R742m in lost production.

tsobol@businesslive.co.za

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