The JSE faces muted Asian markets on Thursday morning, as the Covid-19 pandemic remains in focus.

Progress on the vaccine front has boosted stock markets this week, though tech stocks have been under pressure.

The possibility of a third wave of infections in Japan is weighing on sentiment as cases rise there, while parts of the US are also reporting record case numbers.

New York tightened restrictions overnight, and officials there have threatened to ratchet them higher if cases continue to climb, said Oanda senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley in a note.

Locally, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Wednesday night that international travel restrictions will be lifted, which comes as a relief to the hospitality sector, which remains hard hit by reduced travel.

The rand has remained little changed over the past two sessions, and was flat at R15.63/$ on Thursday morning.

The Shanghai Composite was down 0.2% and the Hang Seng 0.43%.

Tencent, which gives direction to Naspers, had jumped 5.44%, and has been volatile of late, under pressure earlier in the week due to vaccine news.

Gold was 0.31% higher at $1,870.34/oz, while platinum had gained 0.63% to $869.47. Brent crude was 0.37% higher at $43.86 a barrel.

Locally, unemployment data for the third quarter is due later, and will give an indication of the extent of SA’s recovery after the easing of lockdown measures. Mining numbers for September are also due and are expected to show continued recovery.

MultiChoice is expected to report a rise in profits for its six months to end-September, saying it focused on cost reduction. Headline earnings per share are expected to rise 65%-70%, the group said in a recent trading update.

Printing and manufacturing group Novus is also due to release its half-year results to end-September, saying in a recent update it has seen a sharp fall in profits. This was due to reduced advertising spending amid the economic slowdown and the ban on the sale of alcohol, which put pressure on its packaging business.



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