LOCKDOWN LEVEL 1 Ver1 [ DAY 8]
TOTAL DAYS 348 – 7 HOURS 40 MINUTES
Vaccine rollout day 36 / J & J VACCINE DAY 24
By the close of trade on Friday 5th march 2021, the South African rand weakened against the US dollar.
- In the US, the economy created more jobs than expected in February as falling new COVID-19 infections and additional pandemic relief money from the government boosted hiring at restaurants and other services businesses.
- The White House on Sunday urged computer network operators to take further steps to gauge whether their systems were targeted amid a hack of Microsoft Corp’s Outlook email program, saying a recent software patch still left serious vulnerabilities. “This is an active threat still developing and we urge network operators to take it very seriously,” a White House official said, adding that top U.S. security officials were working to decide what next steps to take following the breach.
- Friday’s US market was the proverbial game of two halves, 10-year US Treasury yields making a new year-to-date high immediately following the stronger than expected 379k jump in US non-farm payrolls, and this is turn hurting equities at the open and supporting the USD. Yet equities stages an impressive afternoon come-back, in conjunction with Treasury yield falling back to end the day little changed, the S&P 500 up 3% from intra-day low to high to finish +2.0% and the NASDAQ and even more impressive 4% intra-day swing to end +1.6%. The BBDXY USD index gained 0.35% Friday to be up just under 1% on the week
- Unemployment rate fell in February. The trade deficit widened in January as goods imports jumped to a record high amid a sharp rebound in consumer spending.
- Senate Democrats passed their version of the near-$1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act Saturday afternoon, but not before making some major changes from the version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives last week. Some of the most notable changes between the two relief bills include dropping a provision to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour and reducing the number of people who will qualify for a $1,400 stimulus payment.
- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for a 90-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan and a new United Nations-led peace effort as he warned the United States could withdraw all forces after May 1, according to a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reported by several news outlets Sunday.
- The yield on benchmark government bonds rose on Friday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 7.57%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 5.37% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 9.29%.
In early trade on Monday, the US dollar is trading higher against the South African rand at R15.3822, while the euro is trading marginally lower at R18.3233. The British pound has declined against the South African rand to trade at R21.2472.
By the close of trade on Friday, the euro declined against most of the major currencies.
- A busy week ahead for European economics with the ECB press conference and rate statement. Are changes to economic policy coming to halt steepening yields? In the US, CPI data is released, gauging the effects of inflation. The Bank of Canada will also be making its overnight rate statement, and a strong economic outlook for Canada could mean a change in bond-buying policy.
- The United Kingdom lost market share in the United States, Germany and China during the COVID-19 pandemic due to global trade chaos, Brexit and poor productivity, according to new research published on Monday. The United Kingdom performed particularly badly due to a long-term stagnation in productivity growth, according to the report by Aston University’s Lloyd’s Banking Group Centre for Business Prosperity. While all countries grappled with the tumult of COVID-19, the United Kingdom lost market share in its biggest export markets – the United States and Germany, the research showed.
- German factory orders rose more than expected in January as robust foreign demand more than offset domestic weakness in Europe’s largest economy.
In early trade on Monday, the euro has slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.1926, while it has gained against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8626.
LOCKDOWN LEVEL 1 Ver1 [ DAY 2]
TOTAL DAYS 342 – 7 HOURS 25 MINUTES
Vaccine rollout day 30 / J & J VACCINE DAY 18
By the close of trade on Tuesday 02nd March 2021, the South African rand strengthened against the US dollar. In local news Jacob Zuma has his Judgement day as the Apex court has set a date for late March to cast verdict on his contempt of court shenanigans. The prospect of an ANC / DA coalition in the next round of elections have tongues wagging as a first date seems realistic in a political sense.
- In the US, the Federal Reserve (Fed) Governor, Lael Brainard, stated it has been one year since the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores, a year marked by heartbreak and hardship. We are all looking forward to a brighter time ahead, when vaccinations are widespread, the recovery is broad based and inclusive, and services, schools, sports, and social life are in person. The expected path of the U.S. economy has strengthened with the prospect of widespread vaccinations and additional fiscal stimulus, but risks remain, and we are currently far from our goals.
- Russian Foreign Minister has released a statement over the current sanctions being imposed, stating that the West must stop playing with fire”.
- Business activity across China’s service sector rose only modestly in February, with the rate of growth dipping to a ten-month low. The slowdown coincided with a softer increase in total new business, which was partly driven by a fresh decline in new export work. Panel members often mentioned that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and a recent rise in cases globally, had dampened customer demand. At the same time, firms trimmed their staff numbers for the first time in seven months amid a further steep rise in operating costs. Companies expressed robust optimism towards the year ahead.
- The yield on benchmark government bonds rose yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 7.31%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 5.25% while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 9.02%.
In early trade on Wednesday, the US dollar is trading marginally lower against the South African rand at R14.9422, while the euro is trading marginally lower at R18.0571. The British pound has marginally gained against the South African rand to trade at R20.8627.
By the close of trade on Tuesday, the euro advanced against most of the major currencies.
- The Chancellor of the Exchequer will unveil the latest UK Budget on Wednesday at 12:30 GMT. It will likely include another massive round of spending to safeguard jobs and boost the recovery. Rumors suggest taxes on corporations might be raised as well to repair the hole in public finances, but it’s probably too early for that. As for sterling, with the UK reaping the benefits of early vaccinations, the overall picture seems positive, especially against the growth-starved euro. Balancing the books? It is show time in the UK, where Finance Minister Rishi Sunak is about to reveal the government’s latest fiscal plans.
- Shop prices fell in February by 2.4%, the lowest deflation rate since May 2020, the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC)-Nielsen shop price index revealed on Wednesday. The drop was driven by non-food prices which fell by 3.9% in February, compared with a decline of 3.6% in January, the fastest rate of decline since May 2020. Food inflation was steady at 0.2% in February. This is the lowest inflation rate for the category since January 2017. “With the third lockdown constricting consumer spending across all income brackets, many retailers have been vigorously discounting products in an attempt to encourage spending.
- The eurozone consumer price index (CPI) rose less than expected on an annual basis in February.
- German retail sales tumbled more than expected in January as the COVID-19 lockdown and the withdrawal of a temporary cut in sales tax hit consumer spending in Europe’s largest economy.
- German unemployment rose in February for the first time since last June, dashing expectations for a fall as lockdown measures to suppress the coronavirus case load held back the economy.
In early trade on Wednesday, the euro has marginally slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.2096, while it has weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8627.
LOCKDOWN LEVEL 1 Ver1 [ DAY 2]
TOTAL DAYS 341 – 7 HOURS 25 MINUTES
Vaccine rollout day 29 / J & J VACCINE DAY 16
By the close of trade on Monday1st March 2021, the South African rand strengthened against the US dollar.
- South Africa’s seasonally adjusted Absa Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) expanded at a faster pace in February, supported by an increase in new sales and business activity.
- In the US, ISM Manufacturing PMI increased to a three-year high in February, amid a surge in new orders, but factories continued to face higher costs for raw materials and other inputs amid labour shortages as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.
- Federal Reserve Board Governor, Lael Brainard stated that the coronavirus pandemic laid bare a number of weaknesses in the financial system that should be addressed with new rules to prepare for the next shock.
- The Biden administration is preparing to impose sanctions against Russia over the poisoning and jailing of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, according to three congressional aides briefed on the plans. The sanctions will be unveiled as early as Tuesday, the aides said, offering no specifics and describing the moves on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement. The measures will involve the State, Treasury and Commerce Departments, according to one aide.
- The yield on benchmark government bonds fell yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond fell to 7.24%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond declined to 5.20%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue fell to 8.96%.
In early trade on Tuesday, the US dollar is trading higher against the South African rand at R15.0527, while the euro is trading marginally higher at R18.1022. The British pound has marginally declined against the South African rand to trade at R20.8936.
By the close of trade on Monday, the euro declined against most of the major currencies.
- The Chinese embassy in Britain on Monday expressed grave concern over and strong opposition to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s wrong remarks about Hong Kong. “The UK side’s remarks confuse right and wrong, and interfere in China’s internal affairs and judicial sovereignty. The Chinese side expresses its grave concern and strong opposition,” said a spokesperson for the embassy in a statement. Over a recent decision to charge 47 people, the statement said the handling of this case by the Hong Kong judicial authorities is in line with the law and brooks no distortion or discredit.
- Australia has been riding the recent commodities boom. And if a super cycle does develop, it could be in for some substantial growth. But, there is a particular challenge that they have to overcome in the short term, which might put it behind other countries during the recovery. Australia was one of the slowest countries in the developed world to begin their COVID-19 vaccination program. In fact, the first jabs only started on Feb 22. Australia has secured orders for more than enough vaccines for their population. However, their schedule is more extensive than other nations.
- Central banks need to be prepared to act on inflation moving in either direction, according to former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, who warned against excessive confidence that price growth will remain low. The recent rise in bond yields indicates that markets are aware of the risks, King said in a Bloomberg Television interview Monday.
- The eurozone factory activity increased in February, on account of soaring demand, although the burst of business led to a shortage of raw materials and a spike in input costs.
- German manufacturing PMI rose to its highest level in more than three years in February, brightening the outlook for Europe’s largest economy.
- Crude oil futures rallied in the Asian session before paring gains as the European session progressed as traders look ahead to the OPEC+ meeting this week. OPEC and allies meet on March 4th with market participants looking at a likely lower of output constraints.
In early trade on Tuesday, the euro slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.2066, while it has gained against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8692.
LOCKDOWN LEVEL 1 Ver1 [ DAY 1]
TOTAL DAYS 341 – 7 HOURS 45 MINUTES
Vaccine rollout day 28 / J & J VACCINE DAY 15
By the close of busines on Friday 26th February 2021, the South African rand weakened against the US dollar.
- President Ramaphosa took to his 3 weekly Television slot, to announce to the Republic that were now over the second wave and that we were now on an Alert level 1 with softened restrictions and shorter curfew.
- Israel hit several Iranian targets as Iranian rebels targeted an IDF warship in the sea of Oman. The Iranians have also rebuffed the US attempts to get around the nuclear negotiating table. A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that conditions are not ripe for informal nuclear talks between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers. The Biden administration had proposed the talks as part of its efforts to negotiate a path back to the 2015 nuclear deal. The White House expressed disappointment with Iran’s response, but said it remained willing to engage with Tehran. Temperatures in the region are nearing boiling point.
- Concerns that domestic inflation could begin rising too quickly as more stimulus is pumped into the economy, even as the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic seems on track.
- In the US, trade deficit widened in January. More than 150 top business executives from some of the largest American companies across multiple industries voiced their support for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package and $1,400 stimulus checks. In a letter addressed to bipartisan congressional leaders sent Wednesday, the group of senior executives urged Congress to “act swiftly” and approve more relief to help improve the U.S. economy. “Previous federal relief measures have been essential, but more must be done to put the country on a trajectory for a strong, durable recovery.
- Meanwhile, consumer spending increased by the most in seven months in January, as the government doled out more pandemic relief money to low-income households and new COVID-19 infections dropped, thus positioning the economy for faster growth in the first quarter.
- The yield on benchmark government bonds mostly rose on Friday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 7.36%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond declined to 5.24%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 9.04%.
In early trade on Monday, the US dollar is trading lower against the South African rand at R15.0266, while the euro is trading lower at R18.15285. The British pound has declined against the South African rand to trade at R21.0147.
By the close of trade on Friday, the euro declined against most of the major currencies.
- Businesses in the Japanese manufacturing sector signalled the first improvement in operating conditions since April 2019 in February. The higher headline PMI® reading was supported by modest expansions in both output and new order inflows. That said, manufacturers commented that supply chain disruption caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic contributed to a sharp rise in input prices. As a result, input cost inflation rose to the fastest for two years. Nonetheless, businesses remained optimistic that production would rise over the coming 12 months.
- In the UK, the vaccination programme against COVID-19 entered a new phase as the National Health Service (NHS) will begin contacting all over-60s to book their jabs at the nearest vaccination centre or with a general practitioner (GP) or pharmacy.
- Australia’s central bank signaled it will not shirk from its yield target and quantitative easing programs designed to hold down borrowing costs and keep a lid on the currency. Yet, the bond market shows no indication of taking a backward step. Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe and his board are likely to focus Tuesday’s meeting on their response to a global reflation trade that’s proving a major challenge for central banks. Chinese investment in Australia plunged almost two-thirds last year to less than US$1 billion as the impact of coronavirus was compounded by increasingly fraught relations. The new figure marks the fourth straight annual drop and is just a fraction of the US$13 billion injected into the country in 2016, with Canberra growing increasingly wary. Data from the Australian National University (ANU) released on February 28 showed direct investment plunged to US$800 million last year, from just over US$2 billion in 2019.
In early trade on Monday, the euro advanced against the US dollar to trade at $1.2093, while it has weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8622.
LOCKDOWN ADJUSTED LEVEL 3 Ver2 [ DAY 27]
Wave 2 NEW VARIANT
TOTAL DAYS 334 – 7 HOURS 44 MINUTES
Vaccine rollout day 21 / J & J VACCINE DAY 8
By the close of trading on Tuesday 23rd February 2021, the South African rand strengthened against the US dollar.
- In South Africa, the unemployment rate jumped to a record high in the fourth quarter of last year, as the domestic economy was further battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Today the focus shifts to the Budget speech and the troubled waters that Tito Mboweni must navigate.
- In the US, consumer confidence rose to a three-month high in February, after the US government stepped up its fiscal stimulus payments to families and domestic coronavirus cases fell sharply.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled that the central bank was nowhere close to pulling back on its support for the pandemic-damaged U.S. economy even as he voiced expectations for a return to more normal, improved activity later this year. “The economy is a long way from our employment and inflation goals, and it is likely to take some time for substantial further progress to be achieved,” he said in the text of testimony to be delivered Tuesday to the Senate Banking Committee.
- The yield on benchmark government bonds mostly fell yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond fell to 7.09%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 5.10%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue fell to 8.82%.
In early trade on Wednesday, the US dollar is trading higher against the South African rand at R14.5672, while the euro is trading higher at R17.6722. The British pound has gained against the South African rand to trade at R20.6326.
By the close of trade on Tuesday, the euro declined against most of the major currencies.
- In the eurozone, the consumer price index (CPI) remained steady on an annual basis in January.
- Europe’s top banks must justify why they should not have to shift clearing of euro-denominated derivatives worth billions of euros from London to the European Union after Brexit. Clearers in Britain have EU permission to continue clearing for EU customers until mid-2022 to give banks time to shift their euro positions to the continent, but switching has been slow. The banks are being asked to set out detailed views on shifting euro derivatives positions from London on Friday in the first meeting of a new European Commission working group on moving euro clearing.
- Godwin Emefiele has reiterated the position of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that cryptocurrency currently has no place in Nigeria’s monetary system. The apex bank earlier in February directed Deposit Money Banks and other financial institutions to close accounts of people using their systems for cryptocurrency trading. Nigerian senators a week later invited the Emefiele to explain the reasons for the ban and Nigeria’s future plan for virtual assets.
In early trade on Wednesday, the euro has marginally advanced against the US dollar to trade at $1.2166, while it has weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8622.