Flash Briefing: Gear change for Rand; Kazungula bridge opens trade gateway to Africa; Clicks buys Pick n Pay pharmacies

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  • The South African rand continued to strengthen on Monday, breaking through R14.00 to the US Dollar. TreasuryONE currency strategist Andre Cilliers explains what’s behind the move and what might be next for the currency in relation to the dollar, pound sterling, euro and China’s Yuan.
  • Southern African presidents attended the ceremony to open the $260m Kazungula bridge between Botswana and Zambia, reports Bloomberg. The project aims to alleviate congestion at one of Africa’s busiest border crossings in neighbouring Zimbabwe. The 923-meter road and rail bridge offers a faster and cheaper alternative to a route via Beitbridge on Zimbabwe’s border with South Africa. Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Zambian President Edgar Lungu presided over the ceremony Monday to mark the opening of Kazungula. Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa also attended the ceremony.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned against vaccine apartheid in his weekly letter to citizens, says Bloomberg. Vaccines need to be viewed as a global public good and the intellectual property, knowledge, technology and data related to Covid-19 vaccines should be available to all, Ramaphosa said in his weekly letter. South Africa and India have recently submitted proposals on the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights that would allow for a temporary waiver of certain aspects of TRIPS. This would mean wider access to the technologies needed to produce vaccines and medicines. “A situation in which the populations of advanced, rich countries are safely inoculated while millions in poorer countries die in the queue would be tantamount to vaccine apartheid,” Ramaphosa said. “It will set a devastating precedent in our quest to realize a more egalitarian world and our ability to handle future pandemics.”
  • South African pharmacist Clicks said on Monday it planned to acquire 25 in-store pharmacies, their drug stocks and staff from retailer Pick n Pay, says Reuters. In a joint statement the companies said the sale, subject to regulatory approvals, would not have a material impact on the earnings or financial position of either of them. Clicks, which will rebrand the pharmacies, has been on a drive to extend the reach of its network. This latest acquisition increases its number of outlets to 632 nationally. Pick n Pay Chief Operating Officer Adrian Naude is quoted as saying its small pharmacy division was not part of its future growth strategy.
  • Technology stocks tumbled Monday after ending last week with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average at fresh records, reports BizNews Premium partner The Wall Street Journal. The S&P 500 ticked down 0.1%. The index on Friday closed at its 26th all-time high for this year. The Dow rose 0.6%, while the Nasdaq Composite edged down 1.4%. Stocks have ground higher in recent days after Federal Reserve officials reiterated their commitment to easy financing conditions to aid the economic recovery. President Biden is also proposing additional fiscal spending. A weaker-than-expected jobs report on Friday boosted optimism that the government and central bank are likely to continue with supportive policies. But some money managers are concerned that stocks’ high valuations may mean the rally will lose steam.

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