LOCKDOWN DAY 14 

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

  • Locally, the business confidence index in South Africa retreated towards 34-year lows in March, as the ramifications of the spread of the coronavirus became more apparent.
  • Uncertainty over Japan’s economic outlook is “extremely high” as the coronavirus pandemic hits output and consumption, central bank Governor Haruhiko Kuroda stated yesterday.
  • In the US, minutes from the Fed March 15 policy meeting showed that staffers viewed no major economic recovery until next year as a worst-case scenario of the coronavirus outbreak. The System Open Market Account (SOMA) manager first reviewed developments in domestic and global financial markets. Financial markets remained exceptionally volatile amid the global spread of the coronavirus and uncertainty regarding its effects. Since the meeting of the FOMC in late January, the S&P 500 index declined 18 percent, nominal U.S. Treasury yields moved 60 to 100 basis points lower, and market-based measures of inflation compensation fell 75 to 100 basis points. Investment-grade and high-yield credit spreads widened about 120 basis points and 360 basis points, respectively.
  • Policymakers also fretted about a lack of future ammunition to combat economic distress after the central bank took unprecedented monetary-policy actions last month and slashed the benchmark interest rate.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the 2020 presidential race Wednesday, setting up a general election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
  • On the data front, home loan applications dropped to its lowest since 2015 as the coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on the housing market.
  • OPEC mulls over a massive production cut.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds ended mixed yesterday. The yield on 2021 bond declined to 5.01% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 10.96%.

In early trade on Thursday, the US dollar is trading marginally lower against the South African rand at R18.1836, while the euro is trading marginally lower at R19.7437.  The British pound has marginally declined against the South African rand to trade at R22.5304.

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

  • Weighed down by the failure of European Union Finance Ministers to agree on further support for their coronavirus-hit economies.
  • Britain’s housing market has been thrown into the deep freeze by measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and is unlikely to have recovered a year from now, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

In early trade on Thursday, the euro marginally has advanced against the US dollar to trade at $1.0860, while it has marginally weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8764.

For the second straight day, the US grieved nearly 2,000 deaths on Wednesday, as flags flew at half-mast in hardest-hit New York.  There was also a record death toll of 938 over 24 hours in Britain, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a third night in intensive care, his condition said to be “improving.”  France saw its total number of dead climb over 10,000 as the country prepared to extend its strict lockdown measures.  Spain and Italy are still seeing hundreds of deaths per day despite tentative signs the disease may have peaked.

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS STATS

1,501,353 confirmed cases

87,888 reported deaths

328,255 recovered

South Africa

Confirmed 1,845

Dead 18

Recovered 95

Confirmed Today 0

Died Today 0

Last updated Apr 9, 2020