The JSE faces another day of mixed signals on Wednesday, with volatility on global markets easing a little as the second quarter gets under way.

The JSE had its worst first quarter since 1998, dropping more than a fifth in the three months to end-March. The year has been tough, with SA battered during the period by load-shedding, a downgrade to junk status, and a global economy that is teetering on the brink of recession.

Global equities have been soothed by unprecedented global economic stimulus, as well as news that countries including Italy and China have been somewhat successful in containing the viral outbreak. In the US, President Donald Trump is pushing a $2-trillion infrastructure plan, but there are concerns that the viral outbreak will get worse in the coming weeks in the world’s largest economy.

While it was a calmer night compared to recent days, it has certainly been one of mixed signal from markets, said National Australia Bank analyst Rodrigo Catril in a note. Market moves have been a bit more subdued relative to recent days, with the VIX index, a measure of volatility, falling to its lowest level in three weeks, just above 50.

“So still at a pretty elevated level and with Covid-19 uncertainties likely to linger for some time we should expect market volatility to remain high for some time too,” said Catril.

In morning trade the Shanghai Composite was up 0.3% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.9%.

Gold was up 0.67% to $1,587.57/oz while platinum rose 0.76% to $726.49. Brent crude fell 0.5% to $25.78 a barrel.

The rand was 0.3% weaker at R17.89/$.

Locally, Absa’s purchasing managers’ index for March is due later, and is unlikely to be upbeat. The survey, which measures, business conditions in the manufacturing sector, recorded its lowest level since 2009 during February.