The JSE could be in store for hefty losses on Thursday morning, with Asian shares battered after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

US President Donald Trump also failed to reassure investors on Wednesday, even as the US suspended travel from Europe for 30 days.

Trump announced the deferment of $200bn in taxes, but did not announce any new measures such as a large-scale payroll tax cut to buffer the economy against the impending coronavirus slowdown, said Oanda analyst Jeffrey Halley in a note.

In addition, Trump would need approval from Congress, which may be difficult, said Halley, adding the US Senate is not even scheduled to sit next week.

Asian markets were under severe pressure on Thursday, with the Australian All Ordinaries index down 7.27%, Japan’s Nikkei 5.39% and the Hang Seng 3.66%.

Tencent, which influences the JSE via Naspers, was down almost 4%.

Gold was up 0.19% to $1,637.72/oz and platinum 0.54% to $864.16, while Brent crude had slumped 5.19% to $33.98 a barrel.

The rand had lost 1.18% to R16.41/$.

Global focus is likely to remain on the coronavirus outbreak, while locally, Eskom has said stage 4 load-shedding is expected to continue “until further notice”.

Mining and manufacturing data for January is due later and is expected to show continued weakness due to power blackouts and a generally subdued local economy.

Insurer Sanlam is expected to report a fall in profits for its year to end-December, having disposed of assets in the prior comparative period, while it has also faced expenses related to issuing shares in a broad-based BEE scheme.

Diversified miner Exxaro is expected to report a rise in profits for its year to end-December, saying in a recent trading update that its investments had offset pressure on coal prices during the year.