Vaccine rollout day 53 / J & J VACCINE DAY 41 

By the close of trading on Thursday 25th March 2021, the South African rand weakened against the US dollar.

  • Locally, the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) kept the repo rate steady, in a unanimous decision. The Bank’s quarterly projection model forecasts a 25 basis point (bps) rise in 2Q21, with another expected in 4Q21.
  • Angry Zuma launches extraordinary attack on courts, warns democracy could be reduced ‘to ashes’ after the Constitutional court reserves judgement in his contempt of court case.  In Zuma’s closing paragraph he states “Unfortunately, when people rise up against this judicial corruption, our young democracy will unravel and many democratic gains will be lost in the ashes that will be left of what used to be our democratic state. Many who profess to be acting in the interests of democracy will leave for their wealth destinations abroad as many of them hold dual citizenship. The stooges of these so-called defenders of democracy, will be left with us battling to re-build our country again”. [this is a developing story].
  • In the US, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a one-year low last week, providing a powerful boost to an economy on the verge of stronger growth as the public health situation improves and temperatures rise. But the labor market is not out of the woods yet, with the weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department on Thursday showing a staggering 18.953 million people were still receiving unemployment checks in early March. It will likely take years for a full recovery from the pandemic’s scarring.
  • The Federal Reserve Board on Thursday announced that the temporary and additional restrictions on bank holding company dividends and share repurchases currently in place will end for most firms after June 30, after completion of the current round of stress tests. Firms with capital levels above those required by the stress test will no longer be subject to the additional restrictions as of that date. Firms with capital levels below those required by the stress test will remain subject to the restrictions.
  • The next major initiative for President Joe Biden’s administration will be an infrastructure package to rebuild both physical and technological infrastructure across the US, with Biden set to announce details of the plan at an event in Pittsburgh next week, Biden said during his first press conference with media at the White House March 25. “If you think about it, it’s the place where we will be able to significantly increase American productivity while at the same time providing really good jobs for people,” Biden said.
  • Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy on Thursday condemned an attack on a vital oil installation in Jazan, which resulted in a fire in one of the tanks. The ministry said “these acts of sabotage target the security of energy supplies.” The Arab coalition and Saudi air defenses intercepted and destroyed several explosive-laden drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia toward the Kingdom earlier on Thursday, state TV reported.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds rose yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 7.54%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 5.38% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 9.52%.

In early trade on Friday, the US dollar is trading lower against the South African rand at R14.9766, while the euro is trading lower at R17.6382.  The British pound has declined against the South African rand to trade at R20.6026.

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

  • Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has reported that Germany is in a third wave of Covid-19 infections in which the pandemic is dominated by new variants. Meanwhile, German consumer confidence improved in April.
  • The Japanese government will not resume a subsidy program for promoting domestic tourism until June at the earliest due to concerns over a resurgence of the new coronavirus, even as a state of emergency was lifted for the last remaining area earlier this week, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday. The government will earmark 300 billion yen ($2.8 billion) as reserves to support municipalities’ own travel promotion initiatives until the “Go To Travel” campaign restarts.
  • Nike and H&M are among major clothing retailers facing a backlash in China after expressing concern about allegations that Uighurs are being used as forced labour in the production of cotton. The retailers, who made the statements last year, have seen their products burned in China by some pro-government campaigners. There’s a growing row over the issue after sanctions were imposed on Chinese officials by the UK and other western countries this week.
  • The Federal Government has pledged a further $135 million in support to Australia’s live performance sector, which remains suppressed due to COVID-19 restrictions and border closures. The funding top-up will support jobs for “everybody across the sector,” Arts Minister Paul Fletcher told “Sunrise” on Thursday.

In early trade on Friday, the euro advanced against the US dollar to trade at $1.1788, while it has weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8622.