Vaccine rollout day 4           


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


  • The greenback found strength from robust domestic economic data releases. A widely watched segment of the Treasuries yield curve steepened further Thursday, taking out yet another historic level as it hit a mark last seen in October 2015. The latest steepening push in which the gap between 5- and 30-year yields touched 147.7 basis points is being led by the U.K. bond market, where longer-maturity debt weakened following a Bank of England policy announcement. The central bank said the U.K. economy is heading for a rapid rebound amid a bold vaccination effort. The U.S. curve has been on a steepening trend since July 2020.


  • In the US, January’s employment picture appears to have improved over December, but how much so depends in big part on the impact of the virus and restrictions on the struggling hospitality and leisure sector. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its “employment situation” report for January on Friday morning, detailing the unemployment rate, as well as the number of jobs added or lost last month. Economists expect 50,000 payrolls were added in January, after a decline of 140,000 in December, according to Dow Jones. The unemployment rate is expected to stay at 6.7%.


  • Factory orders rose-more-than expected on a monthly basis in December and business spending on equipment was consistent, pointing to continued strength in the manufacturing industry in the near term.


  • On the other hand, nonfarm productivity fell at its steepest pace since 1981 in 4Q20.


  • Some airline executives and labor unions are seeking a third round of billions in federal aid as tens of thousands of workers again face furloughs with travel demand still depressed in the pandemic. The current round of aid, $15 billion, expires on April 1 2021, and American Airlines and United Airlines over the past week have warned they could cut a combined 27,000 jobs at that time. Those funds can only be used to pay workers and requires that they call back furloughed workers and maintain current jobs. “Essential workers have been living with incredible chaos and uncertainty.


  • In local news Twitter was abuzz after Former comrades turned enemies made contact over the social media platform.  Jacob Zuma responded to a twitter request for Tea by Julias Malema. “I have seen your request to share a cup of tea. As you know, Nkandla village is home for me and that is where my time is spent these days. Tea I have plenty of, you are more than welcome to come over for a cup” tweeted Zuma.


  • The yield on benchmark government bonds rose yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 6.63%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 4.62%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue ended steady at 8.44%.


In early trade on Friday, the US dollar is trading higher against the South African rand at R15.0266, while the euro is trading marginally higher at R17.9732.  The British pound has gained against the South African rand to trade at R20.5372.


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


  • Saudi Arabia on Thursday welcomed Joe Biden’s commitment to help the Kingdom defend its people and territory. The US president made the comments in his first foreign policy speech at the Department of State. “Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes and other threats from Iranian supplied forces in multiple countries,” Biden said. “We’re going to continue to help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity and its people.” The Kingdom has repeatedly been the target of missiles and drones launched by Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen.


  • Eurozone retail sales rebounded more-than-expected in December, as Christmas shopping for clothes and shoes caused a surge in sales.


  • In the UK, the BoE kept its key interest rate steady.


  • Japan’s household spending edged down in December, falling for the first time in three months, before the spread of coronavirus forced the government to call another state of emergency early this year. Spending slipped 0.6% from the prior year, the ministry of internal affairs reported Friday. Economists had forecast outlays falling 1.8%. Key Insights The virus’s spread has worsened considerably in Japan since December so the slump in consumer spending is likely to deepen. Analysts see a plunge in private consumption this quarter amid an extended state of emergency driving the economy back into contraction.


  • Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) will support a government led by Prime Minister designate Mario Draghi, PD leader Nicola Zingaretti said on Thursday. “We will say yes to this challenge set out by (head of state Sergio) Mattarella we will present objectives rather than conditions,” Zingaretti said in an interview with La7 television. Former European Central Bank chief Draghi started consultations with political parties on Thursday in an attempt to muster a majority in parliament.


In early trade on Friday, the euro has slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.1966, while it has weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8727.