LOCKDOWN DAY 22

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

  • The greenback gained ground on safe haven demand.
  • Moody’s Investors Service slashed South Africa’s growth outlook for 2020, stating that the economy will contract 2.5% during the year, as government steps to contain the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic will prove to be insufficient.
  • The Federal Reserve’s (Fed) Beige Book report showed a sharp and abrupt contraction in US business activity through early April, with the expectation that conditions will worsen over the next several months.
  • Consumer and manufacturing reports for March showed the hit to the economy from the coronavirus was even swifter and deeper in the early weeks of the shutdown than expected. March retail sales fell 8.7%, the most ever in government data, and New York regional manufacturing activity hit an all-time low, declining a shocking 78.2%. Industrial production slipped 5.4% and manufacturing was down 6.3%, a record reflecting in part the 28% decline in auto production as plants shut down. The economic reports showed the double whammy of state shutdowns in mid-March on two pillars of the economy — the consumer and business.
  • Some 5 million Americans likely applied for jobless benefits for the third week in a row in mid-April as the coronavirus took an even bigger bite out of the U.S. economy, pushing the unemployment rate to around 15% unofficially.
  • The yield on benchmark government bonds rose yesterday. The yield on 2021 bond advanced to 4.61% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 10.57%.

In early trade on Thursday, the US dollar is trading 0.1% higher against the South African rand at R18.7142, while the euro is trading 0.2% lower at R20.3649.  The British pound has declined 0.3% against the South African rand to trade at R23.3548.

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

  • French consumer price index (CPI) rose above market expectations on an annual basis in March.
  • Italian CPI rose in line with market expectations in March.
  • Spanish CPI registered a flat reading on an annual basis during the same period.
  • In the UK, the Office for Budget Responsibility stated that the British economy could contract by as much as 35.0% in 2Q20.

In early trade on Thursday, the euro has slipped 0.3% against the US dollar to trade at $1.0882, while it has gained 0.1% against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8719.

The US decision to freeze funding to the World Health Organization over what President Donald Trump said was its “mismanaging” of the global coronavirus pandemic triggered anger and concern on Wednesday.   Trump announced on Tuesday that the United States would halt payments to the UN body that amounted to $400 million last year.

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS STATS

2,057,491 confirmed cases

133,749 reported deaths

510,367 recovered

South Africa

Confirmed 2,506

Dead 34

Recovered 410