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Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

The JSE faces mixed Asian markets on Thursday morning, with major bourses mostly weaker as investors digest the future of the US economy and the possibility of an escalation in the conflict over Ukraine.

A report on Wednesday pointed to a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from its border with that country as soldiers finished exercises, but a number of Western officials have indicated there is no sign of deescalation.

Oil prices have remained volatile, with the market also watching for the possibility of progress in a nuclear deal with Iran, which could cause increased supply from that country.

Brent crude rose 2.18% to $93.88 a barrel in morning trade on Thursday, up more than a fifth so far in 2022, but having lost almost 4% in the prior two sessions.

US markets were little changed overnight, but showed recovery towards their close, with retail sales data for January coming in higher than expected, and after the release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve's last meeting.

While the minutes did show plans for aggressive tightening, they also didn't provide much support to expectations the Fed is preparing to raise rates by 50 basis points in March, said National Australia Bank head of foreign exchange strategy Ray Attrill in a note. 

In early trade the Shanghai Composite was up 0.35%, the Hang Seng was flat, while the Nikkei fell 0.19%.

Tencent, which influences the JSE via the Naspers stable, was little changed.

Gold was up 0.24% to $1,873.74/oz while platinum lost 0.14% to $1,060.50.

The rand was 0.4% weaker at R15.04/$, having gained 0.75% on Wednesday, and having firmed 5.56% so far in 2022.

Retailer Truworths is due to release its results for its half-year to December later, saying in a trading update in January group retail sales rose 2%, weighed down by civil unrest, supply-chain issues and erratic electricity supply. Headline earnings per share (Heps) are expected to rise at least 29%, the group said.

Gold Fields is due to report its results for the year to end-December later, expecting a rise in Heps of at least 6%, saying gold production had risen 5% towards the upper end of its guidance range.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za

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