Vaccine rollout day 32 / J & J VACCINE DAY 20      

By the close of trade on Thursday 3rd March 2021, the South African rand weakened against the US dollar.

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that he expects some inflationary pressures in the time ahead but they likely won’t be enough to spur the central bank to hike interest rates. “We expect that as the economy reopens and hopefully picks up, we will see inflation move up through base effects,” Powell said during a Wall Street Journal conference.
  • The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose for the week ended 26 February, boosted by brutal winter storms in the densely populated South in mid-February, though the labour market outlook is improving amid declining new COVID-19 cases.
  • Factory orders increased more than expected in January, pointing to a sustained recovery in manufacturing even as the pace of business spending on equipment is slowing.
  • The U.S. will bolster its conventional deterrence against China, including establishing a network of precision-strike missiles along the so-called first island chain and will request a combined $27.4 billion over the next six years for the Indo-Pacific theater, Nikkei has learned. They form the core proposals of the Pacific Deterrence Initiative that the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has submitted to Congress and which Nikkei has reviewed. “The greatest danger to the future of the United States continues to be an erosion of conventional deterrence,” the document said.
  • China announced on Friday a growth target of over 6 percent for its economy for 2021, picking up the decades-long tradition of releasing a numeric goal after skipping it in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, showcasing top policymakers’ solid confidence on the world’s second-largest economy to sustain a robust recovery despite internal and external risks. The growth target of over 6 percent is largely in line with a widely accepted forecast of over 8 percent for the year.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds rose yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 7.39%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 5.26% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 9.15%.

In early trade on Friday, the US dollar is trading marginally higher against the South African rand at R15.3122, while the euro is trading marginally lower at R18.3136.  The British pound has gained against the South African rand to trade at R21.2822.

By the close of business on Thursday, the euro declined against most of the major currencies.

  • Tsunami imminent.  New Zealand people living in the tsunami danger zone urged to follow evacuation routes to higher ground immediately.  This threat level was downgraded and evacuees were permitted to return to their homes.  More info on the National Emergency Management Agency website: https://civildefence.govt.nz   In Covide-19 news, Auckland will move to alert level 2 and the rest of New Zealand will move to level 1 at 6am on Sunday morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced. Ardern announced the move while speaking to media after a Cabinet meeting to decide on alert level changes.
  • the eurozone retail sales fell more than expected on a monthly basis in January.  Sluggish pace of vaccination continues to jeopardise the recovery in the eurozone. At the end of February, less than 5% of the population in the eurozone had received at least one dose of one of the vaccines. With Johnson & Johnson most probably able to step into the game from April onwards, supply constraints will ease, but the vaccination process also needs an urgent makeover in many countries if herd immunity is to be reached over the course of this year.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced an award of over $5 million to joint whistleblowers whose tip caused the opening of an investigation that resulted in a successful enforcement action. The whistleblowers provided significant information about misconduct abroad that directly supported certain allegations in the enforcement action. “The whistleblowers’ information alerted the staff to misconduct occurring abroad which could have been difficult to detect without their tip,” said Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower.

In early trade on Friday, the euro has slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.1960, while it has weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8606.