The JSE rose for a second day and the rand weakened as SA considered imposing harsher socio-economic restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 as the country grapples with a spike in infections caused by a new strain of the virus.
The rand extended a retreat from its strongest level since January and the all share advanced after health minister Zweli Mkhize said the government is considering further measures to curb the “alarming spread” of the virus.
The UK government banned flights from SA as of 9am on Thursday after a new Covid-19 strain originating in SA was detected in parts of England.
The all share rose 0.32% to 59,175 points and the top 40 0.31%, even as Naspers, which accounts for about 21% of the measure’s value, dropped 1.8% to R2,991.72.
Chinese regulators summoned six internet giants, including Alibaba and Tencent, to a meeting on Thursday, saying they were boosting regulation of bulk-buying practices in which they were involved. A significant portion of Naspers’s market value stems from its 31.2% stake in Tencent.
European stocks rose and the pound advanced on expectations that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is poised to announce a post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU. US equity futures traded higher amid reports that UK and EU negotiators worked through the night to finalise an agreement that would conclude Britain’s exit from the European single market.
At 1.16pm, the rand traded at R14.65/$, R17.87/€ and R19.94/£. The dollar traded marginally weaker against the pound and euro ahead of Christmas Day celebrations amid expectations that rising Covid-19 infections and the detection of new strains in the UK could result in harsher lockdown restrictions.
US markets will close early on Christmas Eve, with the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq scheduled to end trading at 1pm Eastern Time. European markets will close on Friday for Christmas.
S&P 500 futures were up 0.2% to 3,689 points in early New York trade. Gold rose 0.2% to $1,875/oz, while platinum added 0.7% to $1,023/oz. Brent crude was down 0.5% to $50.88 a barrel.
The 2030 government bond fell, with the yield rising two basis points to 8.77%. Bond yields move inversely to their prices.