The JSE faces weaker Asian markets on Friday morning, with Covid-19 remaining an ongoing threat to sentiment, while the official gauge of the health of China’s manufacturing sector missed expectations.  

Chinese factory activity expanded at a slower-than-expected pace in April. The data, which largely focuses on big and state-owned firms, showed businesses again laid off workers in April after increasing hiring the month before for the first time in nearly a year, Reuters reported.

Many Asian markets are on holiday for the early part of next week, which may subdue activity and prompt further caution.

Another headwind for China equities today is the ongoing clampdown on China big tech, said Oanda senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley in a note, with that country’s move to clampdown on monopolistic practices and data harvesting.

Countries including India, Singapore and Brazil also continue to report concerning Covid-19 numbers, boding ill for parts of the world yet to experience a third wave of the pandemic.

“We continue to keep an eye on Covid-19 cases in developing countries such as India, while the developed world starts living closer to normality,” said Citadel Global executive director Bianca Botes in a note.

In morning trade the Hang Seng was down 1.62% and the Shanghai Composite 0.52%.

Tencent, which gives direction to the JSE via the Naspers stable, had fallen 1.27%.

Gold was down 0.3% to $1,766.66/oz, while platinum had gained 0.34% to $1,203.03. Brent crude was 0.39% weaker at $68.25 a barrel.

The rand was slightly firmer at R14.29/$.

Impala Platinum is due to release a production report for its third quarter ending March, and has recently benefited from elevated platinum group metal prices, with its share more than doubling over the past 12 months.

In economic news, balance of trade numbers and private sector credit extension data for March is due for release.


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