The JSE faces mixed Asian markets on Thursday morning, with Covid=19 still the major issue influencing sentiment, along with fiscal efforts to offset its damage.

The UK has approved a vaccine and intends to roll it out next week, even as cases surge in some countries, including the US and Germany. In Germany, officials have warned lockdown conditions may be extended, while in SA, localised restrictions in hotspots in the Western and Eastern Cape are being contemplated.

Focus is also on the US, where an almost $1-trillion (R15.3-trillion) stimulus bill is making its way through Congress.

In morning trade the Shanghai Composite and Japan’s Nikkei were flat, while the Hang Seng had risen 0.56%.

Tencent, which often gives direction to the JSE via Naspers, its largest-single shareholder, had gained 1.92%.

Gold was up 0.27% to $1,835/oz while platinum rose 0.2% to $1,013.10. Brent crude was 0.5% higher at $48.18 a barrel.

The rand was 0.25% weaker at R15.31/$.

The rand had come under some pressure on Wednesday amid the fear of further lockdowns, Peregrine Treasury Solutions executive director Bianca Botes said in a note. “The weakening was, however, short-lived as vaccine and stimulus hopes continue to bolster risk appetite,” she said.

In corporate news, fishing group Oceana is expected to report a rise in profits during its year to end-September later, saying in a recent trading update that it had benefited from operating as an essential service during SA’s lockdown. Many of its products are consumed in-home as well, and the group seen firmer pricing across most of its product categories.

Financial services group Alexander Forbes is expected to report a profit fall in its six months to end-September later, saying it had been affected by volatility in global markets, and a depressed economic environment, among other things. Headline earnings per share are expected to fall as much as 46% in the period.



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