Vaccine rollout day 56 / J & J VACCINE DAY 44 

By the close of trade on Friday, the South African rand strengthened against the US dollar.  Here at home the short week leading to the Easter week is clouded in terms of heightened restrictions with the Shembe Church pilgrimage to Mount Moriah high on the discussion agenda.  Across our northern border the ISIS threat has been thrust front and centre as the town of Palma was attacked by a well coordinated ISIS backed Al Shabab group.  A number of expats are in the area with already one South African reportedly losing his life.  The situation remains grave and this is a developing story.

  • In the US, consumer spending fell by the most in 10 months in February, as a cold snap gripped many parts of the country and the boost from a second round of stimulus checks to middle- and lower-income households faded.  President Biden will have “more to say” in April about his coronavirus recovery plan focused on issues like health care and women leaving the workforce after pushing a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package earlier this month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Sunday. “When the president advocated for the American Rescue Plan, he talked about this being two stages: rescue then recovery. What the American people will hear from him this week, is part of his plan, the first step of his plan toward recovery which will include an investment in infrastructure
  • Personal income tumbled less than expected in February.  Americans are becoming more worried about inflation than ever following the Federal Reserve and the federal government’s unprecedented response to the virus pandemic downturn by plowing trillions of dollars into the economy. As a result, prices of financial assets and items in the real economy have soared over the last year which a new survey reveals three-quarters of consumers are concerned about inflation. With the Federal Reserve turning a blind eye to rapid price increases, consumers are finding it unavoidable to avoid higher prices at the gas pump or supermarket.
  • US consumer sentiment continued to improve in late March to a one-year high, as more Americans got coronavirus vaccinations and business restrictions eased in many states.
  • The 400m Container ship Ever Given has been successfully refloated in the Suez canal.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds fell on Friday. The yield on 2026 bond fell to 7.49%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond declined to 5.35%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue fell to 9.49%.

In early trade on Monday, the US dollar is trading higher against the South African rand at R14.9966, while the euro is trading higher at R17.6727.   The British pound has marginally gained against the South African rand to trade at R20.6642.

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

  • Business morale in Germany is higher in March than it has been in almost two years, as rising demand for manufactured goods keeps factories in Europe’s largest economy humming despite the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions.
  • China announced sanctions against two Americans, a Canadian and a rights advocacy body Saturday over their criticism of Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs, but Washington said the tit-for-tat measure would only intensify the spotlight on Xinjiang. At least one million Uyghurs and people from other mostly Muslim groups have been held in camps in the northwestern region, according to rights groups, who accuse authorities of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.
  • More than a fifth of small British exporters have temporarily halted sales to the European Union and 4% have done so permanently, a survey showed on Monday, highlighting problems that have followed the Brexit trade deal. A trade agreement between London and Brussels that came into force on Jan. 1 has caused disruption and delays for some companies having to deal with new bureaucracy and rules. In the survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), 30 out of 132 exporters said they had stopped sales to the European Union temporarily, while five reported having done so permanently.
  • General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee (CPCCC) and Chinese President Xi Jinping extended gratitude to Cuban leaders for their congratulations on China’s complete victory in poverty alleviation. Xi made the remarks in a reply letter recently to Raul Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee, and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel. Noting China and Cuba are good friends, good comrades and good brothers, Xi said that in recent years, the two countries’ traditional friendship has been deepening

In early trade on Monday, the euro has marginally slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.1796, while it has marginally gained against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8527.