Vaccine rollout day 10

By the close of trade on Monday 8th February 2021, the South African rand weakened against the US dollar.

  • Meanwhile, the SA government is in advanced talks with US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to secure an additional 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, after plans to start inoculating the country’s health-care workers with AstraZeneca’s shot hit a major stumbling block, as evidence emerged that the latter fails to protect people from mild to moderate Covid-19 illness caused by 501Y.V2, the SA COVID-19 variant.
  • US President Joe Biden said China will face ‘extreme’ competition from the US under his administration, but he does not want the relationship to be marred by conflict.
  • The US labor market continued to make incremental progress in January, but the economy remains 11.6 million jobs below its pre-pandemic trend, and unemployment is still elevated. The official measurement of unemployment fell from 6.7 percent in December to 6.3 percent in January. The “realistic” unemployment rate, which adjusts the official unemployment rate to provide a historically comparable measurement, declined slightly from 8.6 percent in December to 8.3 percent. The employment-population ratio, the share of adults that are employed, also increased slightly.
  • Treasury yields moved higher on Monday morning as traders digested comments from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and the prospect of new fiscal stimulus. At around 7:00 a.m. ET, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to price, was higher at around 1.1929%, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was higher at 1.9953%. The Senate and House each passed a budget resolution on Friday, starting the reconciliation process that would allow President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package to get through the Democratic-held Senate with a simple majority.
  • Iran and North Korea resumed cooperation on long-range missile development projects last year, according to a confidential United Nations report that will pressure the Biden administration to respond to one of its first major geopolitical crises. “This resumed cooperation is said to have included the transfer of critical parts, with the most recent shipment associated with this relationship taking place in 2020,” an independent panel of experts monitoring sanctions on North Korea said in the report, citing a member state.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds rose yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 6.67%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 4.63%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 8.50%.

In early trade on Tuesday, the US dollar is trading lower against the South African rand at R14.8633, while the euro is trading lower at R17.8922.  The British pound has declined against the South African rand to trade at R20.4162.

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

  • Britain’s tough new lockdown measures have dented consumer confidence and reduced spending to levels not seen since last spring, according to two separate surveys. Both the British Retail Consortium and Barclaycard said spending in January was at its weakest since May as booming online activity failed to compensate fully for the closure of stores. One of Britain’s leading thinktanks, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), added on Monday that after the UK’s sluggish start to 2021 it had cut its forecast for growth this year and put back the start of the recovery.
  • Germany’s industrial sector avoided a contraction in December, despite coronavirus lockdowns domestically and abroad.
  • Strong demand from China helped export-oriented manufacturers in Europe’s largest economy weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Investor morale in the eurozone unexpectedly fell in February, as lockdowns to suppress the COVID-19 case load left their mark on the economy. The European Union has had positive, early contact with the Biden administration on trade, but will need to wait for a new U.S. trade representative to be in place for real talks to begin, the EU trade chief said on Monday.

In early trade on Tuesday, the euro has advanced against the US dollar to trade at $1.2122, while it has marginally weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8686.