By the close of trade on Thursday, the South African rand strengthened against the US dollar.

  • The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug Remdesivir as a treatment for the coronavirus. In May, the FDA granted the drug an emergency use authorization, allowing hospitals and doctors to use it on patients hospitalized with the disease even though the medication had not been formally approved by the agency. The intravenous drug has helped shorten the recovery time of some hospitalized Covid-19 patients. It was one of the drugs used to treat President Donald Trump, who tested positive for the virus earlier this month.
  • Optimism about a new stimulus package in the US continued to feed demand for risk currencies.  US House Speaker Pelosi on progress made this week, “think we’re just about there on stimulus deal’.  The California Democrat plans to speak to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin again Thursday as they try to craft an aid agreement. While the speaker said the sides are “just about there” on reaching a deal, she cautioned that passing it into law will take time as she and the Trump administration try to resolve outstanding issues.
  • In the US, the number of workers receiving and applying for unemployment benefits declined significantly last week, according to Labor Department figures issued Thursday. That’s good news for workers and the U.S. economy, thousands of people are returning to work and coming off unemployment rolls.
  • The latest Consumer Confidence Barometer from GfK has found a dramatic dip in consumer confidence and low levels of expectation that things will improve on both a personal and wider level over the coming year. The gloomy findings come amid fears of further disruption caused by enforced restrictions and economic downturns as a result of the global pandemic. Alarmingly, the research was carried out between 1-14 October, before the latest social distancing regulations were bought into place. The index measuring changes in personal finance over the past year recorded a drop of two points to -9, 10 points lower than previously recorded.
  • Existing home sales surged to a more than 14-year high on a monthly basis in September.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds fell yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond dropped to 7.00%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond declined to 4.31%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue dipped to 9.25%.

In early trade on Friday, the US dollar is trading higher against the South African rand at R16.2266, while the euro is trading lower at R19.1532.  The British pound has marginally gained against the South African rand to trade at R21.2122.

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

  • Britain and Japan formally signed a trade agreement on Friday, marking the UK’s first big post-Brexit deal on trade, as it continues to struggle to agree on a deal with its closest trading partners in the European Union. “How fitting it is to be in the land of the rising sun to welcome in the dawn of a new era of free trade,” British Trade Secretary Liz Truss told reporters after the signing ceremony in Tokyo. “This is the first new free trade deal to be agreed since the UK once again became an independent trading nation.”
  • Data showed that German consumer morale dropped heading into November, on fears about a second coronavirus wave that is hitting Europe’s biggest economy.
  • Meanwhile, the Bank of England Chief Economist, Andy Haldane, stated that negative interest rates were not on the cards anytime soon.
  • Speculation is rife on trade issues between China and Australia. Officially, China continues to have normal trade with Australia. But there have been numerous media reports showing that Chinese firms are not buying Australian goods at the direction of Chinese officials. Since this isn’t a formal policy, determining why China is cutting back on imports of a wide range of products from coal to cotton is a matter of speculation. The consensus among many observers is that China is “retaliating” for Australian officials’ comments.

In early trade on Friday, the euro has slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.1822, while it has marginally weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.9030.