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The JSE could struggle to make gains on Friday morning, with markets under pressure from a report on Omicron’s transmissibility, while US inflation data for November is due later.

A Japanese study has found that Omicron is more than four times more contagious, also finding it is seems more able to escape natural immunity built up through vaccinations. It does, however, appear less dangerous, and SA’s biggest private hospital group Netcare has noted it has not seen the same acceleration in hospitalisations it saw in previous waves.

In truth the more cautious tone in risk market probably has as much, or more, to do with apprehension ahead of US consumer inflation data later, said National Australia Bank analyst Ray Attrill in a note.

US inflation for November is expected to show a push to near 7% — a 40-year high — and it comes ahead of next week’s Federal Reserve meeting. Fed chair Jerome Powell has indicated policymakers will discuss picking up the pace of tapering.

The rand lost 1.43% against the dollar on Thursday, and in morning trade on Friday had extended losses, trading 0.37% weaker at R15.99/$.

Japan’s Nikkei was down 0.57%, the Hang Seng 0.5% and the Shanghai Composite 0.32%.

Tencent, of which the Naspers stable is the single-biggest shareholder, had dipped 0.59%.

Gold was up 0.17% to $1,778.59/$, while platinum had risen 0.8% to $943/oz. Brent crude was 0.38% higher at $74.80 a barrel.

The local corporate calendar is light on Friday, though junior coal miner Wescoal is due to report a more than quintupling of headline earnings per share for its half-year to end-September later. The miner said in a recent update its operational performance got a boost from the contribution of its flagship Moabsvelden project in Mpumalanga.



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