Vaccine rollout day 17 / j&j DAY 1          

By the close of trade on Monday 16th February 2021, the South African rand weakened against the US dollar.  In local news Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has asked the Constitutional Court to pass verdict on an AWOL Zuma.  Ace Magashule is set to appear before the Bloemfontein High Court this Friday, as the ANC goes in to a tail spin over party first country second policies, and the Ramaphosa vs Zuma factions scrum down.  The Republic await!

  • President Biden has stated “before I took office, I set a big goal of administering 100 million shots in the first 100 days. With the progress we’re making I believe we’ll not only reach that, we’ll break it’ stated Biden.
  • In the US, the New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index rose to its highest level since July in February.  U.S. traders came back from their long weekend on Tuesday ready for a busy trading week. They drove stocks to fresh record highs which should have coincided with a weaker U.S. dollar. However stronger than expected manufacturing activity in the New York region boosted risk appetite. Looking ahead sustainability of the dollar and equity market rally hinges on a retail recovery. The end of 2020 was particularly tough for retailers as consumer spending dropped three months in a row.
  • Weakness in both the dollar and euro is posing a dilemma for investors about which is the best source of funding for emerging-market carry trades. On balance, the U.S. currency is still the crowd favorite. The dollar has been sliding since the second quarter of 2020 as the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to a record low and spiraling coronavirus infections pummeled the U.S. economy. The euro has begun a swoon of its own in recent weeks, briefly dropping below the key $1.20 level, as delays in coronavirus vaccinations sets back expectations for a European economic recovery.
  • Elon Musk’s reign as the world’s richest person was brief. Tesla Inc. shares slid 2.4% on Tuesday, erasing $4.6 billion from its chief executive officer’s fortune and knocking him from the top spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index ranking. Jeff Bezos, who’d held the title for more than three years until last month, reclaimed his No. 1 position with a net worth of $191.2 billion, or $955 million more than Musk. Musk’s drop ends for now an almost six-week stint as world’s richest person that saw him front and center in some of the biggest market events so far this year.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds rose yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 6.89%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 4.75%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 8.63%.

In early trade on Wednesday, the US dollar is trading higher against the South African rand at R14.6910, while the euro is trading higher at R17.7679.  The British pound has gained against the South African rand to trade at R20.4044.

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

  • India is poised to clear some new investment proposals from China in the coming weeks as frosty relations between the two neighboring countries thawed amid an easing in border tensions, said three government officials with knowledge of the matter. Last week, India and China began disengagement from the Pangong Tso area, in the Ladakh region of the western Himalayas, following a nearly nine-month-long standoff after the worst clash between the neighboring countries since 1962. At the height of the tensions, India framed various policies targeting China, including blocking the nation from participating in government tenders, compelling any Chinese company investing in India to seek approvals and banning dozens of Chinese apps.
  • Meanwhile, investor morale in Germany rose significantly in February, on expectations that consumption will take off in the coming months, thus buoying the outlook for Europe’s largest economy.
  • Meanwhile, eurozone’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell less-than-initially estimated in 4Q20 and employment edged higher against the previous three months, despite COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

In early trade on Wednesday, the euro has slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.2092, while it has marginally weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8722.