Vaccine rollout day 30 / J & J VACCINE DAY 18      

By the close of trade on Tuesday 02nd March 2021, the South African rand strengthened against the US dollar. In local news Jacob Zuma has his Judgement day as the Apex court has set a date for late March to cast verdict on his contempt of court shenanigans.  The prospect of an ANC / DA coalition in the next round of elections have tongues wagging as a first date seems realistic in a political sense.

  • In the US, the Federal Reserve (Fed) Governor, Lael Brainard, stated it has been one year since the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores, a year marked by heartbreak and hardship. We are all looking forward to a brighter time ahead, when vaccinations are widespread, the recovery is broad based and inclusive, and services, schools, sports, and social life are in person. The expected path of the U.S. economy has strengthened with the prospect of widespread vaccinations and additional fiscal stimulus, but risks remain, and we are currently far from our goals.
  • Russian Foreign Minister has released a statement over the current sanctions being imposed, stating that the West must stop playing with fire”.
  • Business activity across China’s service sector rose only modestly in February, with the rate of growth dipping to a ten-month low. The slowdown coincided with a softer increase in total new business, which was partly driven by a fresh decline in new export work. Panel members often mentioned that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and a recent rise in cases globally, had dampened customer demand. At the same time, firms trimmed their staff numbers for the first time in seven months amid a further steep rise in operating costs. Companies expressed robust optimism towards the year ahead.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds rose yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 7.31%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 5.25% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 9.02%.

In early trade on Wednesday, the US dollar is trading marginally lower against the South African rand at R14.9422, while the euro is trading marginally lower at R18.0571.  The British pound has marginally gained against the South African rand to trade at R20.8627.

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

  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer will unveil the latest UK Budget on Wednesday at 12:30 GMT. It will likely include another massive round of spending to safeguard jobs and boost the recovery. Rumors suggest taxes on corporations might be raised as well to repair the hole in public finances, but it’s probably too early for that. As for sterling, with the UK reaping the benefits of early vaccinations, the overall picture seems positive, especially against the growth-starved euro. Balancing the books? It is show time in the UK, where Finance Minister Rishi Sunak is about to reveal the government’s latest fiscal plans.
  • Shop prices fell in February by 2.4%, the lowest deflation rate since May 2020, the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC)-Nielsen shop price index revealed on Wednesday. The drop was driven by non-food prices which fell by 3.9% in February, compared with a decline of 3.6% in January, the fastest rate of decline since May 2020. Food inflation was steady at 0.2% in February. This is the lowest inflation rate for the category since January 2017. “With the third lockdown constricting consumer spending across all income brackets, many retailers have been vigorously discounting products in an attempt to encourage spending.
  • The eurozone consumer price index (CPI) rose less than expected on an annual basis in February.
  • German retail sales tumbled more than expected in January as the COVID-19 lockdown and the withdrawal of a temporary cut in sales tax hit consumer spending in Europe’s largest economy.
  • German unemployment rose in February for the first time since last June, dashing expectations for a fall as lockdown measures to suppress the coronavirus case load held back the economy.

In early trade on Wednesday, the euro has marginally slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.2096, while it has weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8627.