The dollar dipped on Wednesday after a stronger-than-expected report on the labor market and ahead of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December meeting, as investors seek signs on when the central bank will begin to hike interest rates. The pound climbed to a two-month high on Wednesday as investors ramped up expectations that the Bank of England will raise interest rates as early as next month after a surprise hike in December. The yen fell to a near five-year low against the U.S. currency and saw losses on other crosses over investors bets that the Bank of Japan (BOJ) would fall behind its counterparts in tightening monetary policy to curb high inflation. After weakening to its worst level since mid-December and breaking through R16/$ on Tuesday, the rand strengthened to R15.76 on Wednesday.
Gold rose on Wednesday, supported by declines in the dollar and worries over the fast-spreading Omicron variant, as focus turned to inflation ahead of the release of the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting. WTI crude futures rose to a six-week high above $78 per barrel on Wednesday as US oil inventories declined for the sixth consecutive week and OPEC agreed to maintain a steady pace in raising supply in a sign of optimism for demand in 2022.
U.S. stocks were flat or down and Treasury yields largely unchanged Wednesday morning following earlier gains to start the new year and ahead of key Federal Reserve meeting minutes to be released later in the day. Asian stocks slipped on Wednesday following a mixed Wall Street session as higher U.S. Treasury yields weighed on global tech firms and pushed the dollar to a five-year high against Japan’s yen.
GLOBAL NEWS IN BRIEF
Sony looks to electric cars for its next big hit
Japan’s Sony Group plans to launch a company this spring to examine entering the electric vehicle market, looking to harness its strengths in entertainment and sensors to play a bigger role in next-generation mobility. The new company, Sony Mobility, comes as the Japanese tech giant is “exploring a commercial launch” of electric vehicles, Sony chairman and President Kenichiro Yoshida told a news conference, speaking ahead of the CES technology trade fair in the United States – CNBC
Biden to take aim at Trump for Jan. 6 attack in anniversary speech
U.S. President Joe Biden will say his predecessor, Donald Trump, had “singular responsibility” for the Jan. 6 attacks during a speech on Thursday marking the first anniversary of the deadly event, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Wednesday. Biden and his top aides have been reluctant to talk directly about Trump since he took office last January, even as the Republican former president continued to spread lies about his election loss – Reuters
Digital Yuan Wallet App Is Now Available On Android And IOS
In a significant push to the development of its Central Bank Digital Currency, China’s Central bank has launched a pilot version of its wallet app, which it hopes will promote the use of the digital Yuan amongst more people. The e-CNY or the Digital Yuan is exactly what the name suggests, a digital version of China’s Yuan. It has been in development since 2014, and unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, it will be controlled and issued by the People’s Bank of China.
South Korea agrees to buy additional Pfizer COVID-19 pills
South Korea signed an agreement to buy additional courses of Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 pill Paxlovid to cover 400,000 people, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Wednesday (Jan 5). This brings South Korea’s total agreed purchases of oral treatments for COVID-19 to treatments from Pfizer for 762,000 people and treatments from Merck for 242,000 people, the KDCA said in a statement – CAN
Your BlackBerry dies: End of an era for iconic handset
BlackBerry devices running the original operating system and services will no longer be supported after January 4, marking the end of an era for the storied device that catapulted work into the mobile era. Ontario-based BlackBerry Ltd., the company formerly known as Research In Motion whose signature handset in the 1990s came to embody working on the move, said handsets running its in-house software “will no longer be expected to reliably function” after Tuesday, according to its end-of-life page – GulfBusiness
Lira weakens 1%, minister says Turkey charting its own path
Turkey’s lira weakened 1% on Wednesday, extending losses a day earlier as investors weighed up the impact of a surge in inflation to a 19-year peak after last year’s plunge in the currency’s value – Reuters
KFC and Burger King at “war” over fries
Social media users in Kenya are calling for a boycott of US fast-food chain KFC after a shortage of fries. On Twitter, users are claiming the chain has refused to source local potatoes, a situation causing their anger. On January 3, KFC Kenya announced on its Twitter page, “You like our fries a bit too much, and we’re running out. Sorry!”, offering its customers various alternatives – africanews
Africa set to become fastest-growing, most sophisticated market in the world – Kearney
In the wake of Covid-19, Africa is poised to move away from traditional retail models and become the fastest-growing, richest and most sophisticated market in the world. This is according to leading global management consulting firm Kearney, which recently released the 2021 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), which found significant potential for investors and international retailers among emerging retail markets. The GRDI ranks 35 developing countries on a scale of zero to 100 – the higher the ranking, the more urgency to enter a country – lOL