The JSE may take its lead from firmer Asian markets on Thursday morning, with Covid-19 statistics coming out of heavily affected areas raising hopes that the pandemic is peaking.

Some European countries are preparing to ease coronavirus restrictions, though uncertainty over the economic effects of the virus, and the chances of a second wave of infections, persists.

All eyes are on China, which is returning to work, being the origin of the pandemic and the first to implement quarantine measures.

“If the country successful avoids a second wave, there’s hope for the rest of the world but if the number of cases surge, forcing parts of the country back into lockdown, then it would be safe to assume that a restart of the US economy will be delayed as well,” said BK Asset Management MD for foreign exchange strategy Kathy Lien in a note.

In morning trade on Thursday the Shanghai Composite was up 0.28% and the Hang Seng 0.78%.

Tencent, which influences the JSE via Naspers, was up 0.83%.

Gold was up 0.19% to $1,648.56/oz while platinum was up 0.33% to $733.48. Brent crude was down 2.08% to $32.88 a barrel.

The rand was little changed at R18.16/$.

Focus on Thursday is on Opec’s meeting, where it is hoped the oil cartel can strike a deal to end the spat with Russia over oil prices.

US jobless claims numbers later will also be watched, while the local corporate and economic calendar is bare.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni is also set to give a briefing later on SA’s recent credit ratings downgrades and Covid-19 measures.

Markets will be closed on Friday for the Good Friday public holiday.