By the close of trade on Thursday, the South African rand strengthened against the US dollar.  As if the US needed a break enter the Tropical storm season. At the time of writing, the National Hurricane Center is monitoring three tropical systems that have a chance to further develop in the coming days. Two of the three systems are tropical depressions that are likely to develop into tropical storms or hurricanes in the coming days.   On the political front Presidential hopeful Biden, accepted the Democratic nomination to run for President, as Trump who has been on a whirlwind campaign trail ended his tour in Bidens home town delivering a speech just hours before the Presidential hopeful made his acceptance speech.

  • In the US, the number of people filing for first time unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose back above the 1 million mark for the week ended 14 August, providing a setback for the struggling US job market, already crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. A jump in jobless claims back above 1 million could be a warning that the labor market faces a setback and the economy’s comeback could be slowing. Economists said the reason for the rise back to 1.1 million claims in the week of Aug. 15, from the previous week of a revised 971,000 was unclear but some say the economy needs more stimulus to keep rebounding. A new fiscal stimulus package has stalled in Congress, as Democrats and Republicans disagree on how much to spend to help the economy and millions of unemployed Americans.
  • The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index fell more-than-expected in August. On the trade front, Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, confirmed plans to talk with US counterparts to review progress on a trade deal.
  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell could deliver a sneak peak into the U.S. central bank’s efforts to revamp its approach to monetary policy next Thursday when he addresses the Kansas City Fed’s annual central banking conference.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds dropped yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond fell to 7.42%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond declined to 4.46%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue fell to 9.25%.

In early trade on Friday, the US dollar is trading 0.2% lower against the South African rand at R17.2395, while the euro is trading marginally lower at R20.4666.  The British pound has marginally gained against the South African rand to trade at R22.8101.

By the close of trade on Thursday, the euro advanced against most of the major currencies.

  • German producer price index (PPI) rose more-than-expected on a monthly basis in July.
  • The European Central Bank’s (ECB) July monetary policy meeting minutes showed that policymakers debated the extent of their flexibility in conducting emergency bond purchases as part of unprecedented efforts to revive the eurozone economy.
  • Pessimism has returned to the BREXIT talks as a deal looks further away and in the UK, consumer confidence remained low throughout August ahead of “inevitable” redundancies when the government winds down the coronavirus job retention scheme. According to the latest research, consumer confidence was minus 27 this month, flat compared to July’s reading. However, the coronavirus pandemic has seen optimism plummet since August 2019, when consumer confidence stood at minus 14. Consumers were slightly more optimistic about their personal financial situation over the next 12 months, but experts warned this could be reversed when unemployment is expected to rise over the next few months.
  • Latest PMI data showed business activity across Australia falling back into decline during August as the re-imposition of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) measures in parts of the country disrupted business operations and hit demand, with the service sector particularly affected. New order inflows dropped after two months of growth while employment contracted at a steeper rate. Inflationary pressures intensified. Business confidence weakened slightly, but remained positive overall.

In early trade on Friday, the euro has advanced 0.1% against the US dollar to trade at $1.1872, while it has marginally weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8972.