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 ADJUSTED LEVEL 3 Ver2 [ DAY 31]
Wave 2 NEW VARIANT
TOTAL DAYS 338 – 7 HOURS 45 MINUTES
Vaccine rollout day 25 / J & J VACCINE DAY 12
By the close of trade on Thursday 25th February 2021, the South African rand weakened against the US dollar.
- This was despite South Africa’s 2021 budget speech being largely welcomed by analysts.
- The United States launched airstrikes in Syria on Thursday, targeting facilities used by Iranian-backed militia groups. The Pentagon said the strikes were in retaliation for a rocket attack in Iraq earlier this month that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a U.S. service member and other coalition troops. The airstrike was the first military action undertaken by the Biden administration, which in its first weeks has emphasized its intent to put more focus on the challenges posed by China, even as Mideast threats persist.
- In the US, the economy grew slightly faster than first estimated in 4Q20.
- Fewer Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, amid falling COVID-19 infections, but the near-term outlook for the labour market is unclear after winter storms wreaked havoc in the Southern region recently. The number of individuals filing first-time claims for state unemployment benefits fell sharply last week, with a total of 730,000 new claims for the week ended Feb. 20, the Department of Labor reported. The unemployment rate has also been falling, dropping to 6.3% in January. Signs of improvement in the labor market may create the appearance that the economy is gaining strength amid increasing vaccinations for Covid-19.
- Pending home sales fell in January, amid a continued shortage of houses available for sale.
- Federal Reserve policymakers are shrugging off the surge in longer-term U.S. government bond yields as a sign of growing optimism about the economy, which could pick up steam as more people are vaccinated against the coronavirus. And none of the officials so far are signaling an interest in lightening up on the U.S. central bank’s accommodative monetary policy stance, even as the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note on Thursday topped the 1.50% level for the first time in a year, sending stocks sharply lower.
- The January durable goods report shows that the manufacturing sector has well and truly shaken off the disruption from the pandemic. Headline orders rose 3.5% month-on-month, well ahead of the 1.1% consensus and its ninth consecutive monthly rise. Admittedly the highly volatile non-defense aircraft component (Boeing airliners) boosted the figure by jumping 390%, but strip out transportation and orders still rose 1.4% versus the 0.7% consensus forecast.
- 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 5.32%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 8.99%.
In early trade on Friday, the US dollar is trading higher against the South African rand at R15.0410, while the euro is trading lower at R18.2777. The British pound has declined against the South African rand to trade at R21.0265.
By the close of trade on Thursday, the euro advanced against most of the major currencies.
- The eurozone economic sentiment rose more-than-expected in February, buoyed by more optimism in industries, services as well as among consumers.
- Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr has used his first opportunity to publicly comment on the central bank’s remit tweak to stress this won’t change the way it sets monetary policy. Speaking to the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Orr said: “Our Monetary Policy Committee remit targets remain unchanged. “We remain only focused on maintaining low and stable consumer price inflation and contributing to maximum sustainable employment, as recently outlined in our Monetary Policy Statement.” Orr’s comments saw the New Zealand dollar fall from US73.8 cents to US73.2 cents.
In early trade on Friday, the euro has slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.2163, while it has gained against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8699.
LOCKDOWN ADJUSTED LEVEL 3 Ver2 [ DAY 25]
Wave 2 NEW VARIANT
TOTAL DAYS 332 – 7 HOURS 30 MINUTES
Vaccine rollout day 19 / j & j VACCINE DAY 6
By the close of trade on Friday, the South African rand weakened against the US dollar.
- In the US, services PMI rose more-than-expected in February, while the domestic manufacturing PMI rose in line with market expectations in the same month.
- Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is likely to emphasize a dovish message to Congress in his first testimony since Democrats took control of the Senate and White House. The U.S. central bank chief, due to speak this week just as lawmakers weigh President Joe Biden’s plan for $1.9 trillion in additional pandemic aid, will probably echo recent remarks that the Fed is fully committed to supporting the economy, with the labor market far from its full employment goal and inflation below its 2% target.
- It took seven years from the summer’s day in 2008 when a top U.S. diplomat first sat down with his Iranian counterpart until the two sides sealed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that aimed to keep Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. No one expects it to take as long to establish whether they can resuscitate the pact abandoned by former U.S. President Donald Trump, but U.S. and European officials say the journey will be lengthy and arduous, if, indeed, they even begin the trek. The Biden administration is deciding on sending a special envoy Rob Malley to Tehran.
- As power generation returns to the grid and lights turn on for millions of customers in Texas, the historic rolling blackouts, Arctic blast, and winter storms may have cost billions of dollars in economic damage. But the damage wasn’t limited to Texas, explained AccuWeather. The total damage and economic loss of the winter storms are estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars across the country.
- The yield on benchmark government bonds rose on Friday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 7.11%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 4.92%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 8.88%.
In early trade on Monday 22 February 2021, the US dollar is trading higher against the South African rand at R14.7227, while the euro is trading higher at R17.8466. The British pound has gained against the South African rand to trade at R20.6388.
By the close of trade on Friday, the euro advanced against most of the major currencies.
- British finance minister Rishi Sunak is set to increase a tax on business to pay for an extension to COVID-19 support schemes in the budget next month. Sunak, in his speech on March 3, will announce he is increasing corporation tax from 19 pence in the pound and will outline a pathway where it rises to 23 pence in the pound by the time of the next general election, the report said. The move will raise an expected 12 billion pounds ($16.8 billion) a year, the report added. According to the report, at least 1 pence is set to be added to the bill for business from this autumn.
- A surge in demand for exports pushed activity in Germany’s manufacturing sector to a 36-month high in February. However, lockdown measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic pushed the country’s services sector into a deeper contraction.
- Business activity across the eurozone contracted again in February, as lockdown measures to restrain the coronavirus hammered the bloc’s dominant service industry.
- The Chinese renminbi’s accelerating transformation from a sleepy backwater of the foreign-exchange market into a currency fit to rival global peers has traders setting aside concerns about how much further it can go without reform and buying into its ascent. In London — the world’s center of foreign exchange — there’s more yuan changing hands than ever before. Options on the Chinese currency exceed those referencing the Japanese yen, and buying or selling the yuan is now as cheap as trading the British pound.
- In New Zealand the Cabinet met on Sunday afternoon, to decide whether the risk of Covid-19 spreading has diminished enough for Auckland to move to alert level 1. Eight cases that had recently emerged had all been linked and close contacts of the mother of a family at the centre of the outbreak had all produced negative results, she said. Cabinet had decided to make face coverings mandatory in all public transport across NZ at levels one and two. People will be able to remove face coverings to eat or drink, but children under 12 are exempt, as are people with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face covering safely.
In early trade on Monday, the euro has marginally advanced against the US dollar to trade at $1.2156, while it has marginally weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8672.
As of today, the total number of confirmed COVID19 cases is:
1 502 367
The total number of deaths is 48 940
The total number of recoveries is 1 409 553
Total number of vaccines administered is 10 414.
LOCKDOWN ADJUSTED LEVEL 3 Ver2 [ DAY 20]
Wave 2 NEW VARIANT
TOTAL DAYS 328 – 07 HOURS 48 MINUTES
Vaccine rollout day 17 / j&j DAY 1
By the close of trade on Monday 16th February 2021, the South African rand weakened against the US dollar. In local news Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has asked the Constitutional Court to pass verdict on an AWOL Zuma. Ace Magashule is set to appear before the Bloemfontein High Court this Friday, as the ANC goes in to a tail spin over party first country second policies, and the Ramaphosa vs Zuma factions scrum down. The Republic await!
- President Biden has stated “before I took office, I set a big goal of administering 100 million shots in the first 100 days. With the progress we’re making I believe we’ll not only reach that, we’ll break it’ stated Biden.
- In the US, the New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index rose to its highest level since July in February. U.S. traders came back from their long weekend on Tuesday ready for a busy trading week. They drove stocks to fresh record highs which should have coincided with a weaker U.S. dollar. However stronger than expected manufacturing activity in the New York region boosted risk appetite. Looking ahead sustainability of the dollar and equity market rally hinges on a retail recovery. The end of 2020 was particularly tough for retailers as consumer spending dropped three months in a row.
- Weakness in both the dollar and euro is posing a dilemma for investors about which is the best source of funding for emerging-market carry trades. On balance, the U.S. currency is still the crowd favorite. The dollar has been sliding since the second quarter of 2020 as the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to a record low and spiraling coronavirus infections pummeled the U.S. economy. The euro has begun a swoon of its own in recent weeks, briefly dropping below the key $1.20 level, as delays in coronavirus vaccinations sets back expectations for a European economic recovery.
- Elon Musk’s reign as the world’s richest person was brief. Tesla Inc. shares slid 2.4% on Tuesday, erasing $4.6 billion from its chief executive officer’s fortune and knocking him from the top spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index ranking. Jeff Bezos, who’d held the title for more than three years until last month, reclaimed his No. 1 position with a net worth of $191.2 billion, or $955 million more than Musk. Musk’s drop ends for now an almost six-week stint as world’s richest person that saw him front and center in some of the biggest market events so far this year.
- The yield on benchmark government bonds rose yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 6.89%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 4.75%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 8.63%.
In early trade on Wednesday, the US dollar is trading higher against the South African rand at R14.6910, while the euro is trading higher at R17.7679. The British pound has gained against the South African rand to trade at R20.4044.
By the close of trade on Tuesday, the euro declined against most of the major currencies.
- India is poised to clear some new investment proposals from China in the coming weeks as frosty relations between the two neighboring countries thawed amid an easing in border tensions, said three government officials with knowledge of the matter. Last week, India and China began disengagement from the Pangong Tso area, in the Ladakh region of the western Himalayas, following a nearly nine-month-long standoff after the worst clash between the neighboring countries since 1962. At the height of the tensions, India framed various policies targeting China, including blocking the nation from participating in government tenders, compelling any Chinese company investing in India to seek approvals and banning dozens of Chinese apps.
- Meanwhile, investor morale in Germany rose significantly in February, on expectations that consumption will take off in the coming months, thus buoying the outlook for Europe’s largest economy.
- Meanwhile, eurozone’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell less-than-initially estimated in 4Q20 and employment edged higher against the previous three months, despite COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
In early trade on Wednesday, the euro has slipped against the US dollar to trade at $1.2092, while it has marginally weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8722.
LOCKDOWN ADJUSTED LEVEL 3 Ver2 [ DAY 18]
Wave 2 NEW VARIANT
TOTAL DAYS 326 – 07 HOURS 30 MINUTES
Vaccine rollout day 16
By the close of trade on Friday, the South African rand strengthened against the US dollar. In SA all eyes are on the ZUMA show / don’t show at the Zondo commission. In the US it is a bank holiday [Presidents Day].
In the US, the Michigan consumer sentiment index unexpectedly fell in early February, amid growing pessimism about the country’s economic recovery, even as the US government is poised to deliver another round of COVID-19 relief money.
- The US House committee approved half of the US President, Joe Biden’s relief plan, thus advancing $1,400.00 payments to millions of people alongside other measures opposed by Republican lawmakers.
- The yield on benchmark government bonds rose on Friday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 6.69%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 4.67%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue rose to 8.50%.
In early trade on Monday, the US dollar is trading lower against the South African rand at R14.5122, while the euro is trading lower at R17.6066. The British pound has marginally gained against the South African rand to trade at R20.1726.
By the close of trade on Friday, the euro declined against most of the major currencies.
- Super’ Mario Draghi sworn in as Italy’s new PM can he save its economy like he saved the euro? Mario Draghi’s life and career may have prepared him for becoming prime minister but he’ll have to navigate treacherous waters. In 2012, the Eurozone was facing an existential crisis, with the future of the euro itself in doubt. Investors were seeking an ever-greater premium to lend to countries like Spain and Italy and there was real concern in European capitals that at least one country might have to be ejected from the single currency zone. Greece, in particular, was thought likely to default on its debts. It is no exaggeration to say that one man, more than any other, prevented that from happening. He telegraphed his intentions with a single phrase, uttered at a global investment conference at Lancaster House in London on 26 July, 2012 “Within our mandate, the European Central Bank is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro, and believe me, it will be enough.” stated Draghi.
- In the UK, gross domestic product (GDP) rose on a quarterly basis in 4Q20. However, the BoE forecasted that the economy would shrink by 4.0% in 1Q21, on account of new COVID-19 lockdowns and Brexit disruption.
- Central banks are accelerating their work on digital currencies and investors are taking note. Earlier this year, the Bank of International Settlements published its latest survey showing that 86% of the 65 central banks it spoke to are doing some form of work on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), be it research, proofs of concept or pilot development. Almost 15% are moving toward actual research for pilots
- Europe’s financial capital is feeling the cold of Brexit but UK officials insist London is suffering a temporary blip and is well-positioned to profit from new trading horizons. For the first time last month, as Britain’s withdrawal from the EU took full effect, London’s financial district lost its European share trading crown to Amsterdam. London “continues to go from strength to strength” in emerging financial technology (fintech) and tech investment, as well as green finance.
- Japan’s recovery held up last quarter, with the economy again growing by double-digits, as exports continued to roar back, businesses started to invest again and government stimulus fueled consumer spending despite a winter surge of the coronavirus. Gross domestic product grew an annualized 12.7% from the prior quarter in the three months through December, the Cabinet Office reported Monday. Economists had forecast a 10.1% expansion.
In early trade on Monday, the euro advanced against the US dollar to trade at $1.2236, while it has weakened against the British pound to trade at GBP0.8766.