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

  • Fears that the number of coronavirus victims was larger than originally thought has now been verified.  The coronavirus outbreak that began in the Chinese city of Wuhan has spread across the country and beyond its borders, leaving governments at all levels in China scrambling to limit further person-to-person transmission of the virus, now known as COVID-19. Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is under lockdown. Many provinces have postponed the resumption of work at non-essential enterprises following the Chinese New Year holiday, with residents instead staying indoors in barricaded neighborhoods.
  • The South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, in his state of the nation address, stated that recovery of the country’s economy has been stalled due to persistent power shortages, while several state-owned enterprises are in distress and added that public finances were under severe pressure.
  • Mining production in South Africa unexpectedly rose in December, as gold experienced its biggest jump since the start of 2016.
  • In the US, consumer prices picked up on an annual basis in January, suggesting the economy was stable enough for the Federal Reserve (Fed) to keep interest rates on hold this year.
  • The number of people filing for unemployment benefits increased less-than-expected for the week ended 7 February, pointing to continued labour market strength that could keep the country’s longest economic expansion on track.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds ended mixed yesterday. The yield on 2021 bond declined to 6.51% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 8.89%.

In early trade on Friday, the US dollar is trading 0.1% lower against the South African rand at R14.9420, while the euro is trading 0.2% lower at R16.1854.  The British pound has declined 0.1% against the South African rand to trade at R19.4883.

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

  • The European Commission kept its economic forecast for moderate eurozone growth unchanged for 2020 and 2021 but slightly raised its projection for inflation, noting the spread of the coronavirus was the key downside risk.
  • German consumer price index (CPI) fell in line with market expectations in January, due to seasonal price decreases for package holidays.
  • Barclays PLC has posted a statement regarding its decision on whether to recommend Jes Staley for re-election. In accordance with the UK Corporate Governance Code, all of the current Directors of Barclays PLC will be submitting themselves for election or re-election at the Annual General Meeting to be held on May 7, 2020
  • The British Pound had no rivalry in the Forex land, with the currency finding strong demand after the British Finance Minister Sajid Javid resigned in what was seen as a surprise move. Immediately, the market started to connect the dots, assuming that the successor (Rishi Sunak) will support looser fiscal policy to satisfy UK PM Johnson’s wishes, and as a result, this may lead to a reduction in the odds for the BOE to cut rates this year

In early trade on Friday, the euro has slipped 0.1% against the US dollar to trade at $1.0832, while it has weakened 0.1% against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8305.