Since Trump has come into the presidency, the news seems to be constantly US-centric. Although this is frustrating it seems to be a condition of our times. Week to week sensational news spills from the US, for instance just in this past week – Trump fired his Secretary of State; his National Security Adviser seems to be the next to go; and last Fridays employment numbers were better than expected easing concerns about inflation hikes.
- US equity markets closed last Friday on a high note following better-than-expected employment gains and lower wage growth, which eased fears of inflation and faster rate hikes. US non-farm payroll data showed that businesses added 313 000 new jobs in February against expectations of 242 000, while growth in average hourly earnings moderated to 2.6% year-on-year, from 2.8% in January and lower than the 2.8% consensus forecast.
- US core inflation rose by 0.2% month-on-month and 1.8% year-on-year in January, in line with market expectations and lower than the Fed’s 2% target. This affirmed last Friday’s labour report that the pickup in inflation will be gradual, and that the Fed need not get aggressive in its monetary policy. Although this eased concerns of faster Fed hikes, markets still expect that the Fed will increase interest rates three times this year.
- This week, Donald Trump fired the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, in a tweet! There has been speculation regarding the firing of National Security Adviser HR McMaster – this has still not been confirmed.
- It seems as though things are out of control at the White House, follow the link to an article from earlier this week on just what has been happening.
- Seasonally-adjusted US initial jobless claims fell by 4 000 to 226 000 for the week ending 10 March. Jobless claims remain well below the 300 000-threshold associated with a strong labour market. The four-week moving-average initial jobless claims, a less volatile measure, decreased by 750 to 221 500. This, together with last week’s non-farm employment data, points to a strengthening labour market.
- In Brexit negotiations, the Irish border remains one of the largest obstacles.
- Bitcoin has had a hard month – from a large sell-off due to capital gains tax, to investigations into it no longer being profitable to mine, and analysts predicting that the largest cryptocurrency in the world still has a far way to fall. These things are always hard to talk about but as we have said in the past, we consider Blockchain’s future to be bright but whether that future includes Bitcoin is not certain.
- This week Stephen Hawking passed away, at 76 years old. The weekend would be well spent reading A Brief History of Time.
- Shaun Abrahams has announced that Jacob Zuma will see his day in court.
- The land debate is largely being regarded as Ramaphosa’s first real test as President since it has been one of the most contested problems since the end of Apartheid. It seems people are confident in giving him the hard-to-deal-with issues.
- Cape Town’s Day Zero has been pushed out to 2019, amidst much controversy.
- Professor Ilse Struweg has written an interesting article on Tiger Brands and its poor response to the Listeriosis crisis. The article shows just how important brand response and communication has become.
- Malusi Gigaba will soon become known as one of the most brazen liars in South African politics. Follow the link for Melanie Verwoerd’s opinion piece on Gigaba’s track record under oath.
- The RMB/BER Business Confidence Index jumped by 11 points to 45 in 1Q18, from 34 in 4Q17, as easing political risk led to improved sentiment across the five surveyed sectors. Though still below the neutral 50-level, the magnitude of the increase reflects the renewed optimism about the domestic economy following the change in political leadership. A sustained uptick in the Index is necessary to encourage greater private-sector investment.