Vaccine progress lifts stocks, dollar still sickly

On Monday, Wall Street was pointing up 0.6 percent and Brent futures were nearly 1.5 percent stronger. (AP)
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Updated 24 November 2020

Vaccine progress lifts stocks, dollar still sickly

  • STOXX index of Europe’s 600 largest firms rises to its highest since February

LONDON: Investors scooped up stocks, commodities and emerging-market currencies and gave the dollar a wide berth as AstraZeneca and Oxford University provided markets with their now-regular Monday shot of encouraging COVID-19 vaccine news.

The STOXX index of Europe’s 600 largest firms rose to its highest since February, Wall Street was pointing up 0.6 percent and Brent futures were nearly 1.5 percent stronger. AstraZeneca and Oxford vaccine, which is set to cost just a few dollars a shot and should be easier to ramp up and store than vaccines by Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna, could also be up to 90 percent effective.

As the dollar buckled through a range it has been in for the past few months, the euro touched $1.19, but it was the emerging markets that are likely to benefit from a cheaper and easier-to-store drug that rallied the most.

South Africa’s rand shrugged off a double sovereign credit-rating downgrade over the weekend to add 0.8 percent. Russia’s rouble and Mexican peso both climbed half a percent to bolster their stellar months.

“The combined vaccine news of the last few weeks ... will lead to a much faster pace of normalization to our daily lives compared to what we would have assumed just a few weeks ago,” analysts at Deutsche Bank said.

Markets’ optimism also came after a top official of the US government’s vaccine-development effort said Sunday that the first vaccines there could be given to US health care workers and some others by mid-December.

US shares looked set to mimic gains in Europe and Asia, as Nasdaq futures rose 0.4 percent, Dow futures rose 0.7 percent, and US e-mini futures for the S&P 500 were 0.6 percent higher at 3,576.

The rally also showed investors are willing to look past the grim US case numbers — which topped 12 million over the weekend — and mixed European economic data released on Monday. IHS Markit’s headline flash composite PMI, seen as a good guide to economic health, fell to 45.1 in November from October’s 50.0 — the level separating growth from contraction. A Reuters poll had predicted a shallower dip to 46.1.

The composite future output index jumped to 60.1 from 56.5, its highest since February.

“Today’s vaccine news is positive, but it is only partly responsible for the rally in stock markets,” said Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec in London. “(It) is also being driven by the news that the US hopes to start the vaccination program in under three weeks.”


Egypt receives 1.4 million tourists in second half of 2020

Updated 23 January 2021

Egypt receives 1.4 million tourists in second half of 2020

  • Al-Anani said that 756 hotels and 1,039 tourist restaurants have obtained health and safety certificates since the start of the pandemic
  • Charges for trips to Luxor, Aswan, Sharm El Sheikh, Taba and Hurghada were reduced and ticket prices for all archaeological sites and museums were halved

CAIRO: As of December, Egypt received 1.4 million tourists since the resumption of the tourism activities at the beginning of July, bringing the total number of tourists during 2020 to 3.7 million.
Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani revealed this during a meeting with the Egyptian Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, to review the ministry’s plans to combat the coronavirus.
He said that 756 hotels and 1,039 tourist restaurants have obtained health and safety certificates since the start of the pandemic.
The minister also reviewed the domestic tourism initiative Winter in Egypt and the discounted prices in this initiative.
Charges for trips to Luxor, Aswan, Sharm El Sheikh, Taba and Hurghada were reduced and ticket prices for all archaeological sites and museums were halved.
The minister also reviewed the follow-up on the Cabinet’s decisions to support the tourism sector.
The minister discussed the support offered to the tourism sector, including the procedures to obtain credit facilities and to extend support though the Ministry of Social Solidarity to tourist guides until the end of December 2020.
On Friday, the Egyptian government cut the price of fuel for the aviation sector to support the tourism sector and stimulate aviation in Egypt. According to a statement, the reduction of 15 cents per gallon will continue until the end of this year.
Tourism revenues in Egypt have fallen by more than 69 percent over the past year, from $13.03 billion in 2019 to $4 billion in 2020, Al-Anani said.