The JSE pushed lower on Thursday morning, falling below 55,000 points for the first time since February as risk aversion on global markets took its toll on equities.
Asian markets were at a four-month low, battered by concerns that the US-China trade war is entering a more fractious phase, with little sign of compromise between the two parties.
Industrials fared worst, with Naspers falling 3.84% to R3,080.11, tracking losses in Hong Kong-listed Tencent.
A weaker rand also failed to lift miners, amid lower international commodity prices.
There are also numerous local and international reasons for caution, including the Reserve Bank’s latest monetary policy announcement due later on Thursday. European parliament elections also take place later in the day, with polls suggesting that eurosceptic parties may perform well.
At 9.45am the all share was down 1.34% to 54,490.5 points and the top 40 1.46%. Industrials lost 1.9%, gold miners 1.34%, platinums 1.33% and general retailers 1.04%.
Gold was up 0.11% to $1,274.71/oz, while platinum had lost 0.26% to $802.03. Brent crude was 0.58% lower at $70.40 a barrel.
The rand was 0.36% weaker at R14.4278/$.
A series of corporate releases also gave the market direction, some of which were fairly negative.
Massmart slumped 5.62% to R73.62, having said earlier that headline earnings for the six months to end-June could be as much as 50% lower than the prior comparative period, though it added this was a highly cautious estimation.
Diversified miner Glencore gave back 1.65% to R47.83.
Sasol fell 1.87% to R368, extending Wednesday’s 12.99% plummet, which followed its announcement that its Lake Charles project in the US would cost $1.1bn more than previously expected.
Rand hedge Richemont was down 1.03% to R105.14, while AB InBev was up 1.17% to R1,186.05.
Brait was down 2.91% to R22.67, having said earlier that its reported net asset value per share in the year to end-March fell between 23.4% and 27%, to between R40.75 and R42.75.
Mediclinic was up 0.25% to R59.89, having said earlier that group revenue was 2% in the year to end-March compared to the prior comparative period, and 4% in constant currency terms. It maintained its dividend at 4.7p per share.