The JSE must contend with a weaker rand and slipping Asian markets on Friday morning, amid concern this week that the Covid-19 outbreak will get worse in coming weeks.

US officials have warned that 240,000 people could die in that country, with deaths peaking in the next two weeks or so. There are also concerns of a rapid escalation in cases in SA.

The total impact of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown on the economy is yet to be understood, although most can agree that the effects will be dire, said Peregrine Treasury Solutions executive director Bianca Botes in a note.

Globally, the number of Covid-19 cases has surpassed 1-million, with the number of jobless claims in the US rocketing to 6.6-million last week — almost double the previous week, which was also a record.

Asian markets were lower on Friday morning, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng down 0.3%, while the Shanghai Composite gave back 0.6%.

Tencent, which influences the JSE via Naspers, had given back 1.42%.

Gold was flat at $1,612.85/oz while platinum was little changed at $721.21/oz. Brent crude was down 3.83% to $28.30 a barrel.

The rand was down 0.5% to R18.53/$, but is off its record low of R18.65/$ reached on Thursday, according to Infront data. This may benefit local rand hedge stocks and miners.

Standard Bank’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for March is due later, while global focus will be on US nonfarm payrolls numbers for March, due at 2.30pm SA time.