As the second wave of Covid-19 continues to disrupt economies across the world, the latest vaccine news comes as a welcome boost for hopes that 2021 may be a much better year than 2020 for the global economy. Developers Pfizer and BioNTech have unveiled interim analysis from their phase III trial that suggests their vaccine is ’90% effective in preventing Covid-19’, while the trial has highlighted no major safety issues so far. The firms expect to apply for emergency authorisation in the US later this month.  Brazil’s health regulator said Monday it had suspended clinical trials of a Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccine after an “adverse incident” involving a volunteer recipient, a blow for one of the most advanced vaccine candidates. The setback for CoronaVac, developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech, came on the same day US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said its own vaccine candidate had shown 90% effectiveness, sending global markets soaring and raising hopes of an end to the pandemic.

The US dollar traded sharply higher against all of the major currencies on Monday after Pfizer said their Covid-19 vaccine is 90% effective in preventing the virus. While Pfizer’s vaccine still needs to be submitted for FDA review and is complicated in implementation (it requires two doses and needs to be maintained in ultra cold temperatures), it confirms that biotech companies are moving in the right direction. With more than 200 coronavirus vaccines in development globally, a dozen in human clinical trials, five out of six vaccines in phase 3 trials, a viable vaccine is right around the corner.

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

  • Attorney General William Barr has authorized federal prosecutors across the U.S. to pursue “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, if they exist, before the 2020 presidential election is certified, despite no evidence of widespread fraud. Barr’s action comes days after Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump and raises the prospect that Trump will use the Justice Department to try to challenge the outcome. It gives prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election is certified.
  • China has released a new five-yuan banknote. But as the central banks rolls out its digital currency, and electronic payment technologies such as Alipay and WePay account for a growing number of transactions, many wonder about the purpose of the new bill. The paper note was unveiled on November 5.
  • Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action against Syrian military officials, members of the Syrian Parliament, Government of Syria entities, and Syrian and Lebanese persons attempting to revive Syria’s deteriorating petroleum industry. Specifically, OFAC added seven individuals and 10 entities to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, pursuant to Syria sanctions authorities. These sanctions focus on individuals and entities that provide support to the Bashar al-Assad (Assad) regime’s oil production network.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds fell yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond dropped to 6.81%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond declined to 3.88%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue dipped to 8.76%.

In early trade on Tuesday, the US dollar is trading higher against the South African rand at R15.4152, while the euro is trading higher at R18.2444.  The British pound has gained against the South African rand to trade at R20.3250.

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

  • UK’s Sunak says we have made significant progress in Brexit talks, a deal can be done.
  • On the data front, German trade surplus widened in September, after exports rose more-than-expected and as foreign trade gave Europe’s largest economy a boost going into the 4Q20, as it struggles to avoid slipping into a double dip contraction.
  • The Bank of England Chief Economist, Andy Haldane, stated that he was hopeful that the announcement of a breakthrough in the search for a COVID-19 vaccination would deliver a quick boost of confidence to the economy, even before vaccines are widely available. Brexit news was also in focus, with the European Union (EU) stating that it was redoubling its efforts to reach a trade deal with Britain this week.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga instructed his cabinet on Tuesday to compile a package of stimulus measures focusing on steps to revitalise an economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s economy minister said. The package will consist of measures to cushion the blow from COVID-19, assist structural changes in the economy and boost productivity through digitalisation, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said. The government will compile the package as soon as possible, aiming to improve growth on both a macroeconomic and on a microeconomic level

In early trade on Tuesday, the euro advanced against the US dollar to trade at $1.1828, while it has marginally gained against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8966.