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

  • News that South Africa has secured COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare workers and that the rollout would start sooner than anticipated.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday the House will proceed with legislation to impeach President Donald Trump, calling him a threat to democracy after the deadly assault on the Capitol. Pelosi made the announcement in a letter to colleagues. She said the House will act with solemnity but also urgency with just days remaining before Trump is to leave office on Jan. 20. “In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” she said.
  • Investor optimism will be constrained by the intensifying conflict between the world’s two biggest economies after Beijing announced steps widely seen as retaliation against the recent Trump administration bans against Chinese companies. Optimism has been elevated by President elect Joe Biden’s comments the bipartisan package passed in December was a ‘down payment’, and followed it up with comments he will deliver a plan costing “trillions” of dollars this Thursday. The urgency has grown after data on Friday showed the US economy shed jobs for the first time in eight months.
  • In the US, the Federal Reserve Vice Chair, Richard Clarida, stated that the US. economy was headed for an “impressive” year as the impact of coronavirus vaccines takes hold and with the potential for larger government spending under US President-elect, Joe Biden’s incoming administration.
  • Iran will expel United Nations nuclear watchdog inspectors unless U.S. sanctions are lifted by a Feb. 21 deadline set by the hardline-dominated parliament, a lawmaker said on Saturday. Parliament passed a law in November that obliges the government to halt inspections of its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency and step up uranium enrichment beyond the limit set under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal if sanctions are not eased. Iran’s Guardian Council watchdog body approved the law on Dec. 2 and the government has said it will implement it.
  • On the data front, nonfarm payrolls dropped the first time in eight months in December, as the country suffered under an onslaught of COVID-19 infections, suggesting a significant loss of momentum that could temporarily disrupt the recovery from the pandemic.
  • U.S. government bond yields have registered some notable moves in the first few days of 2021. Should they continue on their current pace, they risk causing headaches for both policy makers and stock investors because of their underlying drivers. In less than two weeks, the Treasury yield curve has experienced a significant increase in yields in longer-dated bonds, or what is known in financial markets as a “bear steepening.” The yields on 10- and 30-year bonds have risen 20 basis points and 22 basis points, respectively, during this period.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds fell on Friday. The yield on 2026 bond fell to 6.70%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond declined to 4.49%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue dropped to 8.78%.

In early trade on Monday, the US dollar is trading higher against the South African rand at R15.3822, while the euro is trading higher at R18.7266.  The British pound has gained  against the South African rand to trade at R20.7622.

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

  • Labour has called on the government to take action to tackle the continuing trade disruption between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Some companies are struggling to deal with the requirements of the new Irish Sea border. That is leading to temporary shortages of some products in a growing number of NI supermarkets. The government says the flow of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been smooth overall. In a letter to their counterparts, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Louise Haigh and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves urged the government to act
  • On the data front, German trade surplus narrowed in November.
  • Germany’s seasonally adjusted industrial production came in better-than-expected on a monthly basis in November.
  • The New Zealand Reserve Bank has pulled down the shutters on Monday after issuing a short statement on Sunday saying that it had been fallen victim to a cyber attack. The bank said a “third party file sharing service” used by the bank had been hacked and that commercially and personally sensitive information might have been illegally accessed. University of Auckland associate professor in information security Lech Janczewski said the bank should be more forthcoming. The incident was sufficiently serious for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and GCSB Minister Andrew Little to be informed.
  • Australian retail turnover rose 7.1 per cent in November 2020, seasonally adjusted, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Retail Trade figures. This updates the preliminary result of 7.0 per cent, and follows a rise of 1.4 per cent in October 2020. Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys, said: “The rise is led by Victoria (22.4 per cent) as Melbourne retail stores were able to trade for a full month in November. Excluding Victoria, turnover rose 2.6 per cent.”

In early trade on Monday, the euro slipped 0.4% against the US dollar to trade at $1.2192, while it has marginally gained against the British pound to trade at GBP0.9026.