December 21, 2021
“The dollar softened a little overnight following setbacks for the Democrat’s Build Back Better Bill in the Senate, whilst a pickup in Omicron cases across the United States and more widely, deterred traders from moving too aggressively. In terms of the bigger picture, however, the dollar still remains strong, having approached 16-month highs in the past weeks.”
Tim Hallinan, Trading Director
The Omicron variant caused more than 70% of recent Covid-19 cases in the U.S., according to the CDC, highlighting its substantial increase in infectiousness compared with earlier versions of the virus. The CDC said Monday that Omicron had overtaken the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the U.S. and accounted for an estimated 73% of infections for the week ending Dec. 18. In many parts of the U.S., particularly in the densely populated North-East States such as New York, Maine and New Hampshire, Omicron now makes up more than 90% of cases, the CDC said. Infectious-disease experts have said they believe the true share is likely even higher than that.
UK public borrowing fell in November as the end of the job retention scheme helped to cut public spending, despite rising costs from the vaccination programme and higher debt interest payments. Public sector net borrowing was estimated to have been £17.4bn last month, £4.9bn less than in November 2020 when most of the country was under tight restrictions, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. However, this was higher than the £16bn forecast by economists polled by Reuters.
Sterling is well-bid against most major currencies in early morning trade. UK businesses have urged the PM for clarity on restrictions over Christmas. Hospitality and entertainment firms are calling for a clear decision from the government on whether to expect further Covid restrictions in England in the coming days. Boris Johnson did not announce any new measures on Monday, but said data was being reviewed “hour by hour”. Elsewhere, an independent watchdog will oversee the UK insolvency sector, ending decades of self-regulation, as part of a proposed government shake-up of the industry. The plans would streamline the regulation of 1,600 licensed insolvency practitioners in England, Scotland and Wales by replacing the four professional bodies to which supervision is currently devolved.
The euro is lower against sterling and higher against the dollar overnight. The European Medicines Agency on Monday recommended the use of a new type of COVID-19 vaccine from Novavax, bringing to five the number of jabs that will become available in the EU. The agency’s medicines committee guided that the vaccine, named Nuvaxovid, can be used in adults aged 18 and over. In clinical trials earlier this year, the vaccine proved to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 cases and 100 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe disease. Elsewhere, Germany’s new Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said that NATO allies were willing to discuss a raft of demands put forward by Russia, which has massed troops along the Ukrainian border, but would not allow Moscow to “dictate” to the alliance or its partners. Lambrecht’s comments came during a visit to German troops stationed in Lithuania as part of NATO’s forward operating presence.
The dollar is weaker against most majors in early morning trade. Senator Joe Manchin’s opposition to the party’s $2 trillion healthcare, climate and education plan left Democrats grasping for a new path forward Monday, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying that the Senate would vote on the bill early next year despite the pivotal lawmaker not being on board. After broadcasting his opposition to the bill a day earlier, the West Virginia Democrat said Monday that lawmakers should start from square one to rebuild a potential package and criticized the White House for its handling of the talks. Mr. Manchin’s position effectively killed the bill in its current form and put President Biden’s economic agenda in jeopardy.
Asian stocks and U.S. equity futures rose Tuesday on wagers that vaccines can help tame the omicron virus outbreak and signs that President Joe Biden could yet revive his $2 trillion economic agenda. MSCI Inc.’s Asia-Pacific share gauge snapped a two-session drop, bolstered by a rebound in Japan and a rally in Chinese property developers. S&P 500, Nasdaq 100 and European contracts were in the green, signalling stabilization after a global equity index dropped the most this month on Monday. Treasury yields and the dollar were little changed, while commodity-linked currencies stabilized. Crude oil and iron ore pushed higher. In digital assets, Bitcoin rallied to climb past the $48,000 level.
Main Economic Data/ Central Banks/ Government (All Times CET)
10:00 a.m.: ECB’s Kazimir speaks
12:00 p.m.: U.K. Dec. CBI retail sales
4:00 p.m.: Euro-area Dec. consumer confidence
API U.S. oil inventories
Italy’s parliament budget law debate
Earnings include General Mills, FactSet, Rite Aid, BlackBerry