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  • The JSE lost more than 3% in the first morning of trading in 2019.
  • World markets have been hurt by weak data from China.
  • But gold shares benefited.

The SA market started the new year on a very bad note - with the JSE's all share index down more than 3% in the first hours of trading of 2019. 

World markets tumbled after soft data from China cast a somber mood on global markets on the first trading day of the New Year.

In China, the Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for December came in at 49.7, "signalling contraction for the first time in over a year and a half," says Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com.

The last time the survey dropped under 50 - the mark of a contracting sector - was May 2017.

"This is not a good indicator as we eye tariffs biting even harder in 2019 than they did last year," Wilson said.

In addition to the weaker Chinese data, factory output was seen falling across Asia last month.

"An increasing amount of data is pointing to the Chinese economy losing steam and with new orders falling for the first time in 2 1/2 years, the outlook doesn't look great either," Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group said.

It's a brutal start to the New Year after 2018 ended on a sour note for markets. Wall Street's S&P 500 was down 6.2% in 2018, booking its worst year since the financial crisis and worst December since the Great Depression.

The JSE lost more than 11% last year - also its worst performance since 2008.

By Wednesday mid-morning, Naspers was down 4.6% to R275.799, BHP Billiton fell 4.6% to R289.68 and Implats was down 4.8% to R34.93.

But the gold price was up almost a percent to $1,288/oz as investors fled stocks. South African gold shares benefited - Sibanye was up 4% to R10.43 and Harmony rose 3.4% to R26.06.

Here's the roundup:

  • US stock index futures for the S&P 500 fell 2%, while those for the Nasdaq fell 2.4%.
  • In Asia, the Hang Seng plummeted 3%, while the Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 1.2%.
  • Europe's benchmark Euro Stoxx 50 lost 1.7%, France's CAC fell 2.6% and Germany's DAX Index dropped 1.6%
  • Brent crude oil fell about2%, while European mining stocks tanked, dropping more than 3%

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