Vaccine rollout day 28 / J & J VACCINE DAY 15      

By the close of busines on Friday 26th February 2021, the South African rand weakened against the US dollar.

  • President Ramaphosa took to his 3 weekly Television slot, to announce to the Republic that were now over the second wave and that we were now on an Alert level 1 with softened restrictions and shorter curfew.
  • Israel hit several Iranian targets as Iranian rebels targeted an IDF warship in the sea of Oman.  The Iranians have also rebuffed the US attempts to get around the nuclear negotiating table. A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that conditions are not ripe for informal nuclear talks between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers. The Biden administration had proposed the talks as part of its efforts to negotiate a path back to the 2015 nuclear deal. The White House expressed disappointment with Iran’s response, but said it remained willing to engage with Tehran. Temperatures in the region are nearing boiling point.
  • Concerns that domestic inflation could begin rising too quickly as more stimulus is pumped into the economy, even as the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic seems on track.
  • In the US, trade deficit widened in January. More than 150 top business executives from some of the largest American companies across multiple industries voiced their support for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package and $1,400 stimulus checks. In a letter addressed to bipartisan congressional leaders sent Wednesday, the group of senior executives urged Congress to “act swiftly” and approve more relief to help improve the U.S. economy. “Previous federal relief measures have been essential, but more must be done to put the country on a trajectory for a strong, durable recovery.
  • Meanwhile, consumer spending increased by the most in seven months in January, as the government doled out more pandemic relief money to low-income households and new COVID-19 infections dropped, thus positioning the economy for faster growth in the first quarter.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds mostly rose on Friday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 7.36%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond declined to 5.24%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 9.04%.

In early trade on Monday, the US dollar is trading lower against the South African rand at R15.0266, while the euro is trading lower at R18.15285.  The British pound has declined against the South African rand to trade at R21.0147.

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

  • Businesses in the Japanese manufacturing sector signalled the first improvement in operating conditions since April 2019 in February. The higher headline PMI® reading was supported by modest expansions in both output and new order inflows. That said, manufacturers commented that supply chain disruption caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic contributed to a sharp rise in input prices. As a result, input cost inflation rose to the fastest for two years. Nonetheless, businesses remained optimistic that production would rise over the coming 12 months.
  • In the UK, the vaccination programme against COVID-19 entered a new phase as the National Health Service (NHS) will begin contacting all over-60s to book their jabs at the nearest vaccination centre or with a general practitioner (GP) or pharmacy.
  • Australia’s central bank signaled it will not shirk from its yield target and quantitative easing programs designed to hold down borrowing costs and keep a lid on the currency. Yet, the bond market shows no indication of taking a backward step. Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe and his board are likely to focus Tuesday’s meeting on their response to a global reflation trade that’s proving a major challenge for central banks.  Chinese investment in Australia plunged almost two-thirds last year to less than US$1 billion as the impact of coronavirus was compounded by increasingly fraught relations. The new figure marks the fourth straight annual drop and is just a fraction of the US$13 billion injected into the country in 2016, with Canberra growing increasingly wary. Data from the Australian National University (ANU) released on February 28 showed direct investment plunged to US$800 million last year, from just over US$2 billion in 2019.

In early trade on Monday, the euro advanced against the US dollar to trade at $1.2093, while it has weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8622.