The JSE dropped to its lowest level in six weeks on Monday morning as the fear that the coronavirus may affect the Chinese economy weighed on market sentiment.

China extended its Lunar New Year holiday, which began last week, as the coronavirus death toll rose to 81, Reuters reported on Monday. China has also banned its citizens from participating in overseas travel group tours in an effort to contain the virus.

“With most Asian markets closed around the Chinese New Year, it’s difficult to get an accurate gauge of how bad investors perceive the situation to be. That may become clearer as we make our way through the European and US sessions. But even in the thin trade we are seeing, it’s not encouraging and a 2% drop in Japan may just be the start,” London Capital Group’s head of research, Jasper Lawlern said.

Earlier, Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 2.03% while the Shanghai Composite and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng were closed.

At 10.57am, the JSE was down 1.81% to 56,226.5 points, a level last not since December 13, and the top 40 lost 1.93%. Industrials were down 1.96% and banks 1.59%. 

Woolworths said on Monday that its group sales increased by 3.8% in the 26 weeks ended December 29 compared with the 26 weeks ended 23 December 2018. Its share price was down 1.07% to R47.14.

Pepkor said on Monday that Moody’s Investors Service has assigned the retailer an A3.za rating, which is considered a low-risk credit rating. Pepkor’s share price was down 0.24% to R16.68.


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