Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

The JSE was firmer on Thursday morning, shrugging off weaker global markets, as new cases and deaths from the coronavirus were reported, denting investors hopes that the virus will soon be contained.

Gold and platinum miners were benefiting from a weaker rand and higher commodity prices, however, giving a boost to the local bourse.

Asian and European markets dipped as news emerged that the number of the coronavirus — Covid-10 — cases is much higher than originally reported, after patients tested using a different method were included in the numbers. The death toll has also  risen sharply.

Earlier this week, Chinese officials reported that the virus outbreak might be at its peak, and might be contained soon. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Chinese authorities recorded a daily drop in new cases.

In a Thursday press conference, however, China confirmed 15,152 new cases and 254 additional deaths. Those figures include the ones reported earlier by Hubei province under its new diagnosis methodology, reported CNBC.

“The China announcement has shaken Asia’s confidence this morning with the equity [fear of missing out] train leaving the station with many empty seats“, said Oanda senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley.

“That may well be no bad thing given it was faced with choosing between ignoring advice the World Health Organisation, Australia’s chief medical officer and Imperial College London for example, all of which are saying peak-virus is premature”, said Halley.

Earlier, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.71%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.34% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 0.14%.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 had lost 1.13%, Germany’s DAX 30 0.53% and France’s CAC 40 0.34%.

At 11.30am, the JSE all share had gained 0.35% to 57,947.14 points and the top 40 0.37%. Banks were down 0.11%, while financials were little changed. Platinum miners were up 4.22% and the gold index 4.63%.

Gold was up 0.64% to $1,575.83/oz and platinum 0.74% to $966.55. Brent crude was down 2.08% to $555.12 a barrel.

Locally, investors will be watching the state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday evening, with an expectation that President Cyril Ramaphosa will provide a way forward with struggling state-owned power utility Eskom, or announce economic growth-boosting efforts.

tsobol@businesslive.co.za

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