The U.S. dollar took a breather in its climb towards a 14-month high on Thursday, after riding the tailwind of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December policy meeting which bolstered expectations of a U.S. rate hike as early as March. The South African rand appreciated to around 15.7 against USD on Thursday, its highest since December 27th, moving away from a three-week low of 16 hit early in the session, after France has removed South Africa from its scarlet red list amid subsiding concerns about the Omicron variant. Bitcoin fell below $43,000 on Thursday, testing multi-month lows after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed it leaning toward more aggressive policy action, which sapped investor appetite for riskier assets.
Gold extended losses below the key psychological level of $1,800 per ounce on Thursday, the lowest in a week after hawkish meeting minutes released by the Federal Reserve sent the benchmark 10-year US bond yield surging above 1.7%, levels not seen since March 2021. Oil prices shrugged off a large implied slump in U.S. gasoline consumption last week and rallied on Thursday morning amid continued unrest in oil-rich Kazakhstan. Copper futures fell to below $4.4 per pound, the lowest in near two weeks dragged down by a stronger dollar, easing supply worries and reduced demand.
The 3 main US stock indexes were around the flatline on Thursday, attempting to rebound from a big Fed fallout in the previous session. The tech sector remains under heavy pressure as Treasury yields continue to soar after the latest FOMC minutes increased expectations the Fed will raise rates soon, which could hurt the highly valued technology stocks. European stocks fell from records on Thursday amid a global selloff in technology shares and bonds, as investors digested the minutes of the US Federal Reserve policy meeting. The FTSE 100 dropped nearly 1% on Thursday, after touching a near two-year high in the previous session and following a global selloff in equity markets, amid interest rate hike expectations and concerns over the impact of Omicron coronavirus on the economy.
GLOBAL NEWS IN BRIEF
WHO says vaccine inequity undermines economic recovery: It’s ‘a killer of people and jobs’
The World Health Organization on Thursday warned the unequal distribution of vaccines around the globe has contributed to the emergence of new variants, such as omicron, that threaten the global economic recovery. “Vaccine inequity is a killer of people and jobs, and it undermines a global economic recovery,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a Covid update from the group’s headquarters in Geneva – CNBC
US Jobless Claims Rise by 7,000, but Still Low at 207,000
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week but remained at historically low levels, suggesting that the job market remains strong. U.S. jobless claims rose by 7,000 last week to 207,000. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week gyrations, rose by nearly 4,800 to just below 205,000. Despite the increases, the numbers show that weekly claims are below the 220,000 typical before the pandemic struck the U.S. economy in March 2020. The highly transmissible omicron variant so far does not appear to have triggered significant layoffs – USNews
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.
China is not trapping Africa in debt: Foreign minister
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday (Jan 6) rejected suggestions that Beijing was luring African countries into debt traps by offering them massive loans, dismissing the idea as a “narrative” pushed by opponents to poverty reduction. Wang, speaking ahead of touring Beijing-funded infrastructure projects in Kenya, said China’s considerable lending to Africa was “mutually benefiting” and not a strategy to extract diplomatic and commercial concessions – CNA
BMW unveils color-changing car
More than 100 years ago Henry Ford, the founder of the company bearing his name that was the first to mass produce motor cars, famously said customers could have “any color as long as it’s black.” That rigid sales philosophy was left behind long ago. But German car maker BMW has taken things one step further, debuting a color-changing car at the annual Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Drivers are able to change the hue of the vehicle from black to white at the press of a button – CGTN
France fines Google, Facebook over cookies
Infections at record high, hospitalisations low as Omicron sweeps Israel
Data from Israel on Thursday supported growing evidence worldwide that Omicron causes milder illness than previous variants of the coronavirus even as the country grappled with a record number of daily infections – Reuters
What is the way forward for the AfCFTA?
It has been a year since the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) launched. Touted as a new dawn, a solution to unlock intra-African trade, investment, and industrialization, the scheme has had a quiet first year. AfCFTA is an ambitious trade pact to form the world’s largest free trade area by connecting almost 1.3bn people across 54 African countries. The agreement aims to create a single market for goods and services in order to deepen the economic integration of Africa. But its pace has been held back by the pandemic, a lack of significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures, and the continent’s first recession in 30 years – africanews
Peter Hain urges UK to freeze Bain contracts over SA state capture
Hain has written to Boris Johnson, urging the UK authorities to freeze state contracts with Bain following the release of the Zondo report on state capture. Former British MP and anti-apartheid activist Peter Hain has called on the UK authorities to freeze all government contracts with US-based consulting firm Bain & Company after the release of the state capture report – BusinessDay