If William Shakespeare was the second, who was the first?
Global equities made strong gains yesterday fuelled by the idea that Omicron, while highly transmissible, may not lead to particularly severe illness. Whether this means countries will let the virus spread freely without restrictions remains to be seen, particularly given its resistance to current vaccines. We must remember that Covid cases were on the rise anyway even before Omicron. Should Omicron turn out to be less severe it will still likely make Covid case numbers look alarmingly high, more positive lateral flows, more PCR tests and more isolations. A slightly worrying headline suggests South Africa has seen hospital admissions more than doubled, but I have not seen anything to suggest this is due to Omicron. We wait for more evidence.
Biden warned Putin of strong measures should Russia invade Ukraine. Russia say Ukraine has provoked Russia and that the West has not helped the situation by schmoozing Ukraine, Putin says he wants guarantees that NATO will not deploy forces near the Russian border. Any action by Russia could see the Nord Stream 2 pipeline shut down, although as I mentioned yesterday I’m not sure how that leaves Europes natural gas supplies. My latest thinking that this is all about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Russia will pull troops back but only with US support of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which so far has not been forthcoming.
Despite the hopefully better Omicron news, the UK government is considering work from home plans over Christmas, not quite a lockdown but certainly a restriction on movement, in order to quell the spread of Covid.
BoC meeting today and we have seen CAD gains ahead of it. USDCAD had been up to 1.2840 at the start of the week but now trades 200 points lower at 1.2640, helped by a feeling that although no policy change is expected this time round, we could see a slightly more hawkish BoC following the strong CAD employment numbers last week, bringing rate rise expectations forward from current forecasts of middle two quarters of 2022. CAD also helped by oil prices, the combination of improved risk sentiment and a surprise draw in oil stocks has sent oil prices marching higher once again, with Brent up at $75 and WTI at $71.50.
AUD has moved higher since the RBA meeting, also helped by the improved risk sentiment. AUDUSD now 0.7135 with AUDNZD 1.0510. RBAs Lowe speaks tonight, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him try to be a little dovish in an attempt to prevent further AUD gains. Australia meanwhile have followed the US lead in confirming they will not send officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics.
One year ago today, 91 year old Margaret Keenan become the first recipient in UK of the Covid vaccine under the governments vaccination program. The second person to receive a vaccination was a gentlemen named William Shakespeare. I still think the government missed a trick on that, it would have made great headlines if he were the first. Anyway, if you’re going to a pub quiz any time soon, remember those names, its bound to come up.
One year on, the program has been a success story, so I’m not sure I understand why the booster roll out is facing struggles. I had no problem getting an appointment when mine was due, and I haven’t yet met anyone who has said they don’t want one. so what’s the problem?
Finally, I’m afraid I do have to mention the governments Christmas party at No 10 last year. I do defend the government from time to time particularly when it comes to dealing with Covid. I am also not naïve enough to understand that there are different rules for different people in society depending on their wealth, job or social standing. But I have to say that I find the idea of a party at No 10 quite offensive, partly because they make the rules, should set an example and know better, but also that the police or security services must have been aware of the event and did nothing about it. In addition, did those involved really believe they could have a party and get away with it in this day and age. I expect heads to roll on this one.
- 15.00 US JOLTS job openings
- 15.00 BoC rate announcement
- 15.30 US crude oil stocks
- 21.45 NZ manufacturing sales
- 22.00 RBAs Lowe speaks
- 00.01 UK RICS house prices
- 00.30 AUS RBA bulletin
- 01.30 China CPI
- 07.00 German trade balance