LOCKDOWN LEVEL 1 Ver3 [ DAY 30]  

TOTAL DAYS 399 – 7 HOURS 35 MINUTES

Vaccine rollout day 86 / J & J VACCINE DAY 74

By the close of trade on Wednesday 28th April 2021, the South African rand strengthened against the US dollar.  On Wednesday President Ramaphosa testified before the Zondo Commission in what was widely reported to have been a day of vague and broad testimony.  Ramaphosa was quick in his opening statement to the commission to diagnose the problems in the ANC but what remained glaringly apparent is that no one is apportioned blame, nor take responsibility himself whilst he sat as Deputy President. Day two begins earlier today at 09h00 which in all honesty should bring a sweat to his head whilst on the stand.

  • The dollar slid on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve held interest rates unchanged and kept the level of its monthly bond-buying program intact, as expected, but acknowledged the improvement in the U.S. economy. Fed Chair Jerome Powell also said in remarks after the central bank statement that it was not the time to talk about tapering its asset purchases. The greenback had rallied in conjunction with the rise in U.S. Treasury yields on the view that a successful vaccination program and strengthening economic data would prompt the Fed to talk about reducing its bond purchases sooner rather than later.
  • The Federal Reserve is committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time, thereby promoting its maximum employment and price stability goals. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world. Amid progress on vaccinations and strong policy support, indicators of economic activity and employment have strengthened. The sectors most adversely affected by the pandemic remain weak but have shown improvement. Inflation has risen, largely reflecting transitory factors.
  • President Joe Biden on Wednesday pitched to Congress a $1.8 trillion new spending and tax credits aimed toward children, students and families, senior administration officials said. Biden will unveil the massive new package less than a month after the White House issued a sweeping proposal to spend more than $2 trillion over eight years on infrastructure and other projects. Together, the plans comprise the Biden administration’s vision to overhaul the U.S. economy as the nation seeks to recover from, and look beyond, the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Iran’s top negotiator in the latest round of the JCPOA Joint Commission meeting said the negotiations are going on in the right course as two of the three working groups have begun to draft the text of an agreement. Speaking to reporters after a Tuesday meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said the negotiations are on the right track, although there are still challenges and painstaking details.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds rose yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 7.29%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 4.68% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 9.21%.

In early trade on Thursday, the US dollar is trading marginally lower against the South African rand at R14.2166, while the euro is trading marginally higher at R17.282.   The British pound has gained against the South African rand to trade at R19.8563.

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

  • Very low interest rates introduced in response to Covid-19 have increased house prices, creating capital gains for existing property owners and worsening the position of first-home buyers, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a cabinet paper outlining plans to change the Reserve Bank’s remit.
  • German consumer morale unexpectedly deteriorated heading into May as rising COVID-19 infections led to a re-tightening of restrictions on shopping, travel and public life in many areas of Europe’s largest economy.
  • Alex Oh, who last week became the first woman of color appointed to lead the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division, resigned on Wednesday, citing “personal reasons,” the agency said in a statement. “A development arose this week in one of the cases on which I worked while still in private law practice,” Oh wrote to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler. “I cannot address this development without it becoming an unwelcome distraction to the important work of the Division.”

In early trade on Thursday, the euro advanced against the US dollar to trade at $1.2166, while it has marginally gained against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8722.