Yesterday was a blood bath in the financial sector.  Across the board there was nothing but red! In another disastrously record-setting day on the JSE, banking shares and miners were left bleeding as panic selling intensified.

U.S. President Donald Trump moved on Wednesday to accelerate production of desperately needed medical equipment to battle the coronavirus pandemic and said an estimate that U.S. unemployment could conceivably reach 20 percent was a worst case scenario. Scrambling to address the virus after initially down playing it, Trump said he is invoking the Defense Production Act, putting in place a law that will allow the U.S. government to speed production of masks, respirators, ventilators and other equipment needs.

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

  • As demand caught up for the safest assets and investors dumped those that are perceived to be risky.
  • On the data front, South Africa’s annual inflation rate rose above the midpoint of the central bank’s target range for the first time in 15 months in February, driven by higher fuel prices.
  • Meanwhile, the nation’s retail sales rebounded on an annual basis in January.
  • In the US, housing starts and building permits declined in February.
  • Separately, the US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, stated that the government is working on some $1.30tn of emergency funding, as well as other measures, to businesses and workers right away.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds ended mixed yesterday. The yield on 2021 bond declined to 5.84% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 11.34%.

In early trade on Thursday, the US dollar is trading 2.1% higher against the South African rand at R17.4498, while the euro is trading 1.9% higher at R19.0142.  The British pound has gained 1% against the South African rand to trade at R20.0689.

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

  • The ECB’s asset-purchase programme announcement in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The ECB launched a EUR750.00bn emergency bond purchase programme, to push down borrowing costs in the region struggling with the economic fallout of coronavirus.
  • Meanwhile, the eurozone’s consumer price index (CPI) rose in line with market expectations on a monthly basis in February.

In early trade on Thursday, the euro has slipped 0.1% against the US dollar to trade at $1.09, while it has gained 0.9% against the British pound to trade at GBP0.9476.

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS STATS

217,857 confirmed cases   [19,509 new cases]

8,936 reported deaths  [957 new deaths]

67,003 recovered*  [0 recovered]

SA 116 cases

Last updated 6:55am Mar 19, 2020