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Despite the rand’s strong performance, the JSE closed flat on Thursday due to poor results and trading updates from the retail sector and some miners. Retailers fell 5.66% in January, making it the worst performing index in the month.
On Thursday most US indices rose on the back of the US Federal Reserve (Fed) deciding to take a more patient approach to future monetary policy changes, and due to stellar results released by tech companies. At market close, the Nasdaq gained 2.21% while the Dow fell 0.05%.
After choppy trading on Thursday, European markets closed flat, mostly because of weak economic data released, pointing towards possible slowing economic growth, and Italy entering a technical recession. The STOXX 600 closed up 0.16%.
Asian markets enjoyed a boost on Thursday after the Fed’s monetary stance decision. These gains aided the Hang Seng to end January up 8.39% and the Chinese Enterprises Index 9% higher – the best monthly gains since January 2018. At the close of trade, the Hang Seng was 0.40% up and the Shanghai 0.35%.
The Nikkei made up some ground on Thursday in light of the Fed’s announcement to be more patient regarding future interest rate hikes, which lifted investor sentiment. At market close, the Nikkei was 1.06% higher.
The Fed’s dovish tone around interest rates boosted emerging market currencies, especially the rand, which reached an almost six-month high on Thursday. At 20h00, a rand traded at R13.31 a dollar.
On Thursday gold prices continued to climb due to the Fed’s monetary policy announcements on Wednesday night, which caused the dollar to slide. At 20h00, spot gold traded at $1 321.05 an ounce.
Oil prices decreased on Thursday despite production cuts and the US monetary policy updates, but because of new concerns around the US-China trade disputes. On Thursday, US President Donald Trump announced that either a big trade deal would be struck or it would be postponed altogether. At 20h00, a barrel of Brent crude cost $61.89.
Source: Reuters, Business Day, Trading Economics
Chief Investment Officer