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Zambia kick-starts coronavirus vaccination program

April 15, 2021by Nicholas Kabaso
  • Zambia yesterday kick-started its coronavirus vaccination program. The launch involves the first pillar of the program under the COVAX facility consisting of 228k doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and will cover around 20% or 3.6mn of the eligible over 18 years people and will target front-line health workers and other people most at risk. Speaking at the launch Health Minister Jonas Chanda said that the vaccination program will be conducted in a cautious and phased manner on a voluntary basis. Chanda added that the country expects the second batch of the vac-cines under the COVAX facility next month and commended cooperating partners for financing the vaccine mechanism.
  • On the base metals front, copper has slipped in the Asian session as the market factors in rising inventories. LME warehouse stocks have hit their highest levels since Nov 5 at 172 025 tonnes. The bearish bias is however rather limited with most traders preferring to focus on the global growth angle and watch the world as each region deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • President Biden announced that he would begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan on the 1st of May, thus ending America’s longest war. The Biden administration is rejecting calls for US forces to remain on the ground to ensure a peaceful resolution to the nation’s internal con-flicts. This looks to be another extension of Trump’s policies to steadily reduce the amount of military action happening in the region and ends a multi-generational presence. Biden will likely come in for some criticism given that there would be greater flexibility for Al Queda to reconsti-tute itself, but Biden has pressed ahead regardless.
  • A wall of stimulus money and higher commodity prices are certainly supporting the thoughts of longer term inflation taking hold. The global central banking community is currently looking through the spikes in inflation viewing them as potentially short term in nature preferring to fo-cus on balance sheet repair both on a consumer and corporate level.  There are however a number of factors which may set the tone for struc-turally higher inflation in the coming years as the likes of China restock, the broader globe looks to electrify causing higher base metal prices and weather patterns change affecting food prices.  Corn prices in the US have traded bear 8 year highs in recent days driven by cold weather which has damaged newly planted crops across the grain belt, added to this there is expectations of lower than average rainfall which may well result in lower crop yields. Keeping an eye on these developments could well give warning signs to those trading rates markets especially from 2 years out.
  • In the FX markets, the bearish bias on the Kwacha has shown no signs of abating with the local unit continuing to trade at a record low amid weak macroeconomic fundamentals.
  •  Yesterday proved to be another poor day for the USD, which came under further pressure in keeping with the more recent trend. It would appear that the Fed’s message that it will persist with ultra-low interest rates for a while to come is resonating with many in the market and keeping USD sentiment weak. Real economy pressures are counting against the USD’s performance, most notably the record trade deficit and the widening budget deficit that will persist well into 2022. Technically, there appears to be more left in this move, forcing the USD to erode to even weaker levels.
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Nicholas Kabaso

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