SA govt considers tighter Covid-19 restrictions, as vaccine hope fuels markets

The South African government is considering reinstating several curbs aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic as fears mount about a second wave of infections, three officials familiar with the situation told Bloomberg. The option of reintroducing the restrictions is likely to be on the table when the National Coronavirus Command Council meets this week, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information hasn’t been made public. South Africa has had one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, which began in March and was  gradually eased. The country is currently at alert level 1 and a resurgence of infections in the Eastern Cape province has local experts worried. Economists and government officials agree; South Africa cannot afford a second lockdown. Internationally though, investors are optimistic about Covid-19 vaccine breakthroughs announced by AstraZeneca and Pfizer in the last week. Markets are banking on a hypothetical flurry of global economic activity as Covid- 19 could be conquered by vaccination programs in the near future.- Melani Nathan

Pfizer’s Covid vaccine prevents 90% of infections in study

By Robert Langreth, Naomi Kresge and Riley Griffin

(Bloomberg) – Oil in London jumped by the most since June as Pfizer Inc. reported a potential Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough.

Crude futures spiked following news the vaccine, being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech SE, prevented more than 90% of infections in a study of tens of thousands of volunteers.

Markets globally surged. WTI climbed almost 10% in New York, while global equities soared. It also led to broader strength in the oil futures curve, with timespreads also seeing some of their biggest moves higher in months.

“That could be the potential game changer as it will speed up the demand recovery,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodities strategy at Saxo Bank A/S.

Read also: SA Nobel laureate Prof Michael Levitt: Why lockdown CAUSES death #BestofBizNews

Prices had earlier gained as Joe Biden declared victory in the U.S. presidential election and began preparations to navigate America’s pandemic-hit economy out of crisis, with potential shifts coming on a range of policies from fiscal stimulus to Iranian sanctions. Saudi Arabia said that OPEC+ could extend oil cuts through 2022 as the group seeks to re-balance the glutted market.

Prices:
  • West Texas Intermediate for December delivery jumped as much as 9.9% to trade at $40.82; the U.S. benchmark was trading up 8.7% at $40.38 by 7:46 a.m. local time
  • Brent for January settlement rose 7.9% to $42.56

Read also: AstraZeneca optimistic: vaccine before new year

The potential vaccine would come just as European oil demand is being roiled by Covid-19 again. Speculators had built up bumper short positions in the market in recent weeks as the virus spread afresh, though consumption has been relatively robust in China.

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