By the close of trade on Wednesday 20th January 2021, the South African rand had strengthened against the US dollar.  In the USA history was made at the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden with the first lady of color being sworn in as the Vice president.  The records tumbled as Biden became the oldest President to take office in the White House. This was only the second inauguration where the outgoing President snubbed the inauguration and flew home to his West Palm beach resort the Mar-a-Lago.  The inauguration was on heavy lockdown with limited guests due to heightened security and Covid-19.

  • In South Africa, on the data front, the consumer price index (CPI) fell to its lowest rate on an annual basis in more than a decade in 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic put a pressure on consumer spending as well as on fuel prices.
  • In the US, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th US President, with a vow to wrestle the ailing economy from the clutches of the pandemic and end a tumultuous four years under the Trump administration. The incoming President also spoke of the need for unity, while pledging to fight for racial justice and to reject extremists and white supremacy. Biden laying down the law right off the bat with his team at The White House letting them know he won’t hesitate to fire any one of them if he catches them disrespecting or talking down to a colleague. The new President was swearing in his political appointees when he dropped the hammer and threw some shade at the previous administration at the same time saying people getting treated with “decency and dignity” has been missing the past 4 years.
  • In one of the many Executive Orders Biden signed hours after his inauguration, the leader of Canada’s oil heartland called President Joe Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline project an “insult” and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to consider retaliation. “This is a gut punch to the Alberta and Canadian economies,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a press conference Wednesday. “It’s an insult.” Last year, Kenney’s government invested $1.1 billion of taxpayer money to jump-start construction of the pipeline that would carry more than 800,000 barrels a day of crude from Alberta’s oil sands as far south as the U.S. Gulf Coast. Kenney said he was calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sit down with the new administration, suggesting that the federal government impose trade and economic sanctions should those efforts be refused.
  • Equity and currency traders welcomed the new Administration with fresh records for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. The peaceful transition allowed investors to turn their focus to President Biden’s 100 day agenda which includes aggressive promises for more stimulus and broader vaccine distribution, the two most important ingredients for a 2021 recovery. The greenback sold off against all of the major currencies with the exception of euro and Swiss Franc because more spending and a larger fiscal deficit is bearish for the dollar.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds fell yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond fell to 6.57%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond declined to 4.45% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue fell to 8.74%.

In early trade on Thursday, the US dollar is trading lower against the South African rand at R14.8766, while the euro is trading marginally lower at R18.048.  the British pound has marginally declined against the South African rand to trade at R20.3572.

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

  • Meanwhile, German producer price index (PPI) rose more than expected on a monthly basis in December.
  • In the UK, CPI rose on a monthly basis in December, starting what is expected to be a climb this year as pandemic-fighting measures, Brexit and a recovery in the economy combine to push up costs for consumers and businesses. Firms are generally well prepared and the government has already rolled over most non-EU trade deals. And while there may be some temporary frictions at the border, they pale in comparison to the near-term uncertainty around the economic effects of COVID-19 and the speed of the vaccination distribution.

In early trade on Thursday, the euro has advanced against the US dollar to trade at $1.2166, while it has marginally weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8832.