Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

The JSE was firmer on Monday morning, following Asian markets with a positive start to the week, as the battle to contain the coronavirus continues.

The fears about the spread of the virus and its effect on the world economy lingers. On Monday, China’s central bank cut lending rates again in an attempt to reduce the economic shock from the virus outbreak.

Asian shares reversed losses on Monday and were near three-week highs as China’s persistent efforts to cushion the blow from a coronavirus outbreak calmed nervous investors, Reuters said, though Japanese stocks faltered on growing recession concerns.

According to an official from the country’s National Health Commission, the coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 70,000 people and caused 1,770 deaths in China is both “preventable and treatable”.

Earlier, the Shanghai Composite was up 2.28%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.52%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 0.69%.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 had gained 0.21%, Germany’s DAX 30 0.25% and France’s CAC 40 0.22%.

The Japanese economy shrank by 6.3% in the fourth quarter. This is the biggest decline in five years “as a sales tax hike and a destructive typhoon caused havoc”, said TreasuryOne dealer Andre Botha. 

“Most Asian countries have bulked up in their defence against the virus,” said Botha, adding that Japan’s market was under pressure due to the release of the disappointing GDP data.

At 10.50am, the JSE all share had gained 0.39% to 58,089.70 points and the top 40 0.43%. Banks were up 0.58% and financials 0.50%. Gold index was down 1.28%, while platinum miners were 0.10% higher.

At 11.27am, the rand had weakened 0.13% to R14.9166/$, 0.27% to R16.1781/€ and 0.25% to R19.4553/£. The euro was up 0.14% to $1.0845. 

Gold was down 0.22% to $1,580.39/oz, while platinum gained 0.92% to $969.30. Brent crude was down 0.14% to $57.26 a barrel.

Locally, there are no economic releases of note on Monday, with inflation numbers for January due on Wednesday.

Investor focus now turns to the national budget, which will be delivered next week by finance minister Tito Mboweni.

tsobol@businesslive.co.za