Vaccine rollout day 13          

On Thursday evening the President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the SONA.  The president laid out 4 pillars that the Government is focused on this coming year

  1. Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic
  2. Accelerating economic recovery
  3. Creating Jobs and inclusive economic growth
  4. Fighting corruption and strengthening the State

Fighting words that year after year have proven to be nothing than hot air.  The rot is within the ruling party and pillar 4 should have been ranked higher at number two on the list. Ramaphosa, further announced that the country had secured 9 million doses of the J&J vaccine, with 500,000 expected to arrive over the next four weeks so authorities can start inoculating health workers. Another 20 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech were also on their way. He added that the COVAX facility co-led by the World Health Organization will provide 12 million vaccine doses.

By the close of trade on Thursday 11th February, the South African rand strengthened against the US dollar.

  • Dovish comments by US Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell.  The federal budget deficit is projected to total $2.3 trillion in the 2021 fiscal year, a drop from last year but well ahead of anything the U.S. had seen prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday. That total does not include the $1.9 trillion in relief spending that President Joe Biden has proposed, because the ultimate size of the package has not been determined. While smaller than the $3.13 trillion shortfall in fiscal 2020, the red ink this year still will be the second-largest in the nation’s history either in total dollar terms or as a proportion of the $20.9 trillion U.S. economy.
  • The dollar headed for its first losing week in three as new signs of weakness in the U.S. jobs market dented investor expectations about the pace of a pandemic recovery. Bitcoin was on course for its best week since the start of the year after surging to a fresh record near $49,000 following news Thursday that BNY Mellon had become the latest firm to embrace cryptocurrencies. The dollar remained on the back foot on Friday, pinned near two-week lows, after the release of weaker-than-expected weekly U.S. jobless claims data the previous day.
  • President Joe Biden is set to meet with a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday at the White House to seek support for major spending to modernize an aging U.S. infrastructure after his predecessor Donald Trump failed to tackle the matter. The White House said Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with the lawmakers to discuss what it called “the critical need” to invest in infrastructure, with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joining the session remotely. Biden has pledged to ask Congress this month for what he has referred to as “historic investments in infrastructure and manufacturing.
  • The United States has sold more than a million barrels of Iranian fuel seized under its sanctions program last year, a Department of Justice official said, as another ship with intercepted Iranian crude oil sails to a U.S. port. The seizures are part of Washington’s tough economic sanctions on Tehran imposed over its nuclear program and the U.S. designation of a number of Iranian groups as terrorists, continuing decades of rancor between the two nations. Iran rejects U.S. accusations of wrongdoing.
  • The number of people filing new applications for unemployment benefits fell slightly for the week ended 5 February, even as the labour market continued to tread cautiously. However, a drop in new COVID-19 cases has raised optimism that momentum could pick up by spring.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds mostly fell yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond fell to 6.65%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 4.66%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue fell to 8.45%.

In early trade on Friday, the US dollar is trading marginally higher against the South African rand at R14.6422, while the euro is trading lower at R17.7366.  The British pound has declined against the South African rand to trade at R20.1816.

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

  • The UK has extended COVID-19 vaccine deal with India’s pharma company Wockhart by up to 6 months. The agreement is now expanded to August 2022, and Wockhardt will continue to make vaccines at CP Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of the company in Wrexham, North Wales.
  • London has lost its top spot to Amsterdam as the center for stock trading in Europe. It’s the latest blow to the city just a month after the U.K.’s divorce from the European Union was finalized. Trading volumes in January rose fourfold in Amsterdam to more than $11 billion dollars per day, while London’s volume fell to $10.4 billion, according to data from Cboe, one of the world’s largest exchange operators. Financial services is a key driver of the U.K. economy, but so-called equivalence rules about how the industry works its European counterparts were largely left out of the last-minute Brexit deal.
  • The Japanese government decided Friday against lifting the COVID-19 state of emergency covering Tokyo and other regions this week ahead of the March 7 end date, as hospitals continue to be under pressure despite a decline in infections. A total of 1,693 coronavirus cases were reported nationwide on Thursday, down from the single-day peak of 7,882 in early January. However, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 hit a record-high of 121 on Wednesday as hospitals struggled to secure enough beds to treat patients with severe symptoms.
  • State and territory governments across Australia are tightening their border restrictions with Victoria after thousands of interstate travelers were potentially exposed to COVID-19 at Melbourne Airport. There are now 13 coronavirus cases linked to Melbourne’s Holiday Inn after five new cases were confirmed, with the state now entering a five-day snap lockdown.

In early trade on Friday, the euro has slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.2324, while it has gained against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8826.