Risk sentiment continues to improve as a new presidential administration takes office.
- President Biden was sworn into office as the 46th President of the United States yesterday. He immediately signed executive orders rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, cancelling the Keystone Pipeline (provoking an angry response from the Premier of Alberta), and ending President Trump’s country-based entry ban and tough enforcement of immigration laws.
- The major U.S. stock market indices – the S&P 500, the NASDAQ 100, and the Dow Jones 30 - surged strongly to reach all-time high prices. Historically, this market condition has been likely to lead to a continuing rise.
- In the Forex market, precious metals such as gold and silver, the Canadian and Australian dollars, and the British pound are the strongest currencies. The U.S. dollar is clearly the weakest major currency, again falling in line with its long-term trend.
- The Bank of Japan yesterday left interest rates unchanged and revised its growth forecast for 2021 upwards. The yen gained slightly on the news.
- The Bank of Canada yesterday left interest rates unchanged and revised its growth forecast for 2021 upwards. The Canadian dollar gained strongly, trading at a new 2.5-year high against the U.S. dollar. The bank has expressed concern about the strength of the loonie.
- Global coronavirus deaths have increased dramatically since early October to reach a level twice as high the peak last April.
- Total confirmed new coronavirus cases worldwide stand at over 97.3 million with an average case fatality rate of 2.14%.
- The fastest progression in terms of immunizing a population against the coronavirus has been in Israel, which has already administered a first shot of the Pfizer vaccine to 34% of its entire population (including almost 80% of the over-60s) and began administering second doses over a week ago. The U.A.E. ranks second, having now vaccinated 22% of its population. For most of the world, a vaccine seems distant: only 13 countries have vaccinated more than 2% of their population so far.
- The rate of new coronavirus infections appears to now be increasing most quickly in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the U.A.E., and Venezuela.