Donald Trump’s path to re-election was nearly closed off on Wednesday after Joe Biden flipped the battlegrounds of Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, and inched closer in Georgia, as Trump unleashed a flurry of eleventh-hour challenges. Trump’s campaign announced it would “immediately” request a recount in Wisconsin, and filed lawsuits in Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania, dispatching allies to Philadelphia for a hastily arranged news conference where they took no questions. With his wins in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin, Biden needs only to claim Nevada’s six electoral votes to reach the threshold.

Nine states reported record one-day increases in cases on Wednesday: Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin. The pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of American life, including a record number of voters mailing in their ballots in Tuesday’s presidential election, whose outcome has yet to be decided. In addition to rising cases, on Tuesday hospitalizations topped 50,000 for the first time in three months. North Dakota reported only six free intensive care unit beds in the entire state on Wednesday

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

  • Markets were gripped by one of the most hotly contested US Presidential elections in recent history.
  • In the US, ISM services PMI slowed in October, with growth in new orders and employment moderating, likely reflecting concerns about ebbing fiscal stimulus and a resurgence in new COVID-19 cases across the nation.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds dropped yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond fell to 6.96%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond declined to 4.22%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue dipped to 9.21%.

In early trade on Thursday, the US dollar is trading marginally lower against the South African rand at R15.8722, while the euro is trading higher at R18.6314.  The British pound has declined against the South African rand to trade at R20.5682.

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

  • The Bank of England will give it monetary policy announcement on Thursday 5th November, the same day that the UK’s new month-long lockdown will begin. Whilst a QE is almost a dead cert, the central bank could also pop in a surprise rate cut.
  • The UK and EU have said serious differences remain over a post-Brexit trade deal, as the latest talks came to an end in Brussels. UK negotiator Lord David Frost said “wide divergences” remained in some areas, despite progress being made. His EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, said there were “serious divergences” over fishing and competition rules. Negotiation resumed last month, after a week-long standoff in the wake of an EU leaders’ summit. The two sides are seeking an agreement to govern their trading relationship once the UK’s post-Brexit transition period ends in January 2021.
  • On the data front, the eurozone’s producer price index (PPI) edged higher on monthly basis in September, pushed up by an increase in energy costs. Further, services PMI rose more-than-expected in October.
  • Meanwhile, German services activity shrank for the first time in four months in October, in comparison to the previous month’s reading, a sign that Europe’s largest economy was struggling even before a partial lockdown was imposed to break a second wave of coronavirus infections.

In early trade on Thursday, the euro has advanced against the US dollar to trade at $1.1766, while it has gained against the British pound to trade at GBP0.9122.