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

  • Big jump in new China cases Yesterday’s data suggested that the spread of the coronavirus had slowed dramatically, with just 300 new cases reported in China, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. As at yesterday, the number of cases in mainland China was approximately 44,700, an increase of just 400 from the previous day. However, this morning, the total of cases has jumped to about 59,700 with total cases worldwide reaching 60,200. It is still unclear whether the jump is due to a revision of prior data or a fresh upsurge. China has reshuffled top officials in Hubei, the epicenter of coronavirus.
  • Tonight South Africa and global investors will look at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s SONA.  There are promises of fireworks from the EFF.  It is stormy times for a President and a nation who remain unsure as to whether they will even get the opportunity to watch the SONA if the lights go off!
  • African retail sales unexpectedly declined on an annual basis in December, recording its worst figure since 2009, amid poor consumer confidence and constrained household spending.
  • In the US, Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair, Jerome Powell, reiterated his confidence in the US economic outlook and stated that Fed is keeping close tabs on the Coronavirus epidemic.
  • On the political front, Senator, Bernie Sanders of Vermont won the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds rose yesterday. The yield on 2021 bond advanced to 6.51% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 8.87%.

In early trade on Thursday, the US dollar is trading 0.2% higher against the South African rand at R14.8895, while the euro is trading 0.2% higher at R16.1834.   The British pound has gained 0.2% against the South African rand to trade at R19.2871.

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

  • The eurozone’s seasonally adjusted manufacturing output plunged more than expected on a monthly basis in December.
  • The European Central Bank’s (ECB) Chief Economist, Philip Lane, stated that the bank is keeping a close eye on the development of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

In early trade on Thursday, the euro has marginally slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.0870, while it has marginally gained against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8391.