LOCKDOWN LEVEL 1 Ver1 [ DAY 15]  

TOTAL DAYS 354 – 7 HOURS 30 MINUTES

Vaccine rollout day 42 / J & J VACCINE DAY 30     

 By THE close of trade on Friday, the South African rand weakened against the US dollar.

  • Some Americans say their government checks were deposited in the wrong bank accounts this weekend, forcing many of them to wait longer for the badly needed aid after struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those taxpayers were surprised to see that the last four digits of their bank account numbers were incorrect when they checked their payment status on the IRS website, an issue that happened during the first two rounds of direct payments when technical glitches from third-party tax preparers caused delays for many filers.
  • China’s economy has shed the clouds of the coronavirus and picked up its recovery in the first two months of 2021, with key economic indicators improving at a sizable growth rate of more than 30 percent, thanks to last year’s low base and a steady acceleration of manufacturing which is fired up by domestic and overseas demand. Analysts say the rosy January-February economic performances signal that China may record a GDP growth rate of between 15-20 percent for the first three months, which would make its first-quarter economy expansion the highest among major global economies.  In February, fixed asset investments jumped by 35% year-on-year, coming up short of a forecasted 40% rise. Fixed asset investments had increased by 2.9% in January. Industrial production surged by 35.1% versus a forecasted 30% jump, with retail sales increasing by 33.8%. Economists had forecasted retail sales to rise by 32%. On the negative, however was a rise in the unemployment rate from 5.2% to 5.5%.
  • The rise in US yields weighed on investor morale.  A strong recovery from the Covid-19 recession is likely to prompt Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and his colleagues to lift interest rates in 2023, but that isn’t going to show up in their forecasts this week, a survey showed.
  • In the US, producer price index (PPI) increased strongly on an annual basis in February, but considerable slack in the labour market could make it harder for businesses to pass on the higher costs to consumers.
  • Michigan consumer sentiment improved in early March to its strongest in a year as COVID-19 cases declined and the pace of vaccinations accelerated.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds mostly rose on Friday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 7.49%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond declined to 5.38% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 9.33%.

In early trade on Monday 15th March 2021, the US dollar is trading marginally higher against the South African rand at R14.9588, while the euro is trading higher at R17.8826.  The British pound has gained against the South African rand to trade at R20.8327.

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

  • Seasonally adjusted industrial output was much stronger than expected in January and was revised sharply upwards in December too.
  • In the UK, economy shrank by less than feared in January when the country went back into a coronavirus lockdown. Further, the Bank of England showed that the British public’s expectations for inflation over the next 12 months held at their lowest level in more than four years, in sharp contrast to a recent rise in market expectations.
  • House prices increased by 0.8 percent this month, leading to the strongest spring sellers’ market in the past 10 years as buyer demand skyrockets. The average price of houses coming to the market has surged by £2,484 as buyer demand reaches record levels, according to Rightmove’s latest House Price Index.
  • Japan’s core private-sector machinery orders fell 4.5 percent in January from the previous month, the first drop in four months, with declines seen in a wide range of sectors that have been recovering from the coronavirus pandemic-induced slump, government data showed Monday. Following an upwardly revised 5.3 percent increase in December, the orders, which exclude those for ships and from electricity utilities due to their volatility, totaled 841.67 billion yen ($7.7 billion), according to the Cabinet Office.

In early trade on Monday, the euro marginally slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.1966, while it has weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8572.