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Global shares and oil drop after Trump tests positive for COVID-19

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Global equity markets and oil fell sharply on Friday, while gold rallied, after US President Donald Trump said he and the first lady, Melania Trump, had tested positive for coronavirus, sparking a rush to safe-haven assets and a jump in overall volatility.

US futures on the S&P 500 , the Dow Jones Industrial Average , and the Nasdaq 100 traded about 1% to 1.5% lower, suggesting the major indexes would fall at the start of trade later on Wall Street, while oil suffered the heaviest blow, sliding by more than 3%, as investors fled risk-linked assets.

Even the US dollar came under pressure, trading roughly flat against a basket of major currencies, to the benefit of typical safe-haven assets such as the Japanese yen , gold, and US Treasurys.

Trump, who faced off against his Democratic rival Joe Biden in a televised debate Tuesday night, got tested for the coronavirus along with the first lady after his close confidante and White House counselor, Hope Hicks, tested positive earlier this week.

“News of Trump’s testing positive for Covid-19 test throws a spanner in the pre-election process, as it clearly limits his ability to campaign for the presidency, and the initial negative market reaction market implies that volatility will remain elevated as a result,” ADM Investor Services’ chief global economist, Marc Ostwald, said.

European indexes slipped in early trade, with the FTSE 100 , the DAX , and the CAC 40 all down by 0.5% to 0.6%, led by losses in the chemical, energy, and industrial materials sectors.

The dollar index traded 0.1% up on the day, at about 93.81, having fallen back from an earlier intraday high of 94.03.

Various indicators of volatility a measure of investor nervousness rose sharply. Futures on the VIX index , which reflects options volatility on the S&P 500, were up by nearly 4%, while the V-DAX New an indicator of options volatility on Frankfurt’s DAX index was up 3.7%.

“It seems that the knee-jerk reaction was first to sell USD a little instead, at least until markets can work out exactly how this potentially plays out,” Rabobank strategists said in a note. “Stock futures are certainly going down at time of writing, however. Risk is off there.”

Spot gold was last up 0.1% on the day at $1,908 an ounce, having bounced off an earlier low of $1,889.90 an ounce as the news of Trump’s positive test broke. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell 2 basis points on the day to 0.659%, set for its biggest one-day decline in nearly two weeks.

Oil, one of the most sensitive commodities to geopolitics and the economy, plunged by as much as 4% at one point. Brent crude futures were most recently down 3.1% at $39.67 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate futures fell 3.1% to $37.55 a barrel.

“News that Donald Trump has contracted Covid-19 adds to the bearish pressure,” the SEB chief commodities strategist Bjarne Schieldrop said. “It was always a big wild-card in this election whether one of the candidates would contract C-19 thus placing the candidate on the side-lines.”

Highlighting the investor flight from risk was a drop in cryptocurrencies, with bitcoin down by more nearly 4% on the day, while Ethereum fell by 7%.

Source: Business Insider Africa

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Tension Brewing At Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Over Recruitments of 320 Family & Friends

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Tension is brewing in the Foreign Service under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, following the incessant recruitments and promotions of party loyalists, family and friends of Akufo-Addo’s government appointees into the service, which some of the staff consider as indiscriminate.

The Foreign Ministry, has just gotten financial clearance for some 320 newly recruited officers to serve in various capacities in the Foreign Service and insiders complain that they are mainly political party apparatchiks, close friends of people in the corridors of power and family members.

The skewed selection process, has ignited some agitation among senior staff of the service, but worsened by the promotion of these special recruits ahead of the professional diplomats and others, who have held the fort for all these years with a proven track record.

A source close to the Ministry, told this paper that aside the recruitment of some 40 officers known as “Hackman 40” into the service when Hackman Owusu Agyeman was the Foreign Minister in the era of President John Agyekum Kufuor, the practice is being repeated under the government of President Akufo-Addo.

A letter sighted by The Herald dated December 11, 2020, with reference number AC36/452/02F which was titled “RE: Financial clearance” and released to the head of civil service, from the Ministry of Finance, said “The Ministry of Finance as per the letter No. B/CPMU/2020/FC10 dated October 13, 2020, granted your organization financial clearance to recruit the under listed with effect from April 1, 2021.

The letter listed the following Foreign Service Officer (FSOs), A5/Director IIB, 22, two Principal Executive Officers, 63, B4 Senior executive officers, six, B5 Higher executive officers and 25, FSO C3.

Also recruited according to the letter are; 38, FSO C4. One, FSO C5, Five telephonists, six messengers, three store keepers and sixteen catering staff

The letter further stated that “the request for the following officers will be posted to your institution in due course. FSO A1/Director, nine, FSO A2 Deputy Director 15, FSO A3 Assistant Director I, 40, FSO A4 assistant director IIA, eleven and FSO B2 Asst Chief Executive Officer, 23.”

It was explained that in the foreign service, there are three branches, these are FSO branch A, this is made up of administrative class, who go on to become Ambassadors, the FSO branch B which is the executive class, manages government accounts at post and the FSO branch C, are the secretarial class, and also serve as confidential secretaries.

So, if you apply for any of the branches, you start for instance from FSO A5, A4 to A3, A2 and then to A1.

The same system, applies to FSO B and the C branches. However, during Hackman’s time, the source said those 40, were recruited midstream and given a special treatment by starting them from A3 and A4 and were placed ahead of the A3 and A4 officers who were already in the system.

“Fast forward to 2016 when NPP regained power, they posted them before those in the system and made them seniors on the Foreign Service Precedence list”, adding “these officers are now A1s therefore eligible to be considered for ambassadorial appointments including those who were in the system long before they were recruited,” the source disclosed.

The source further said “obviously these recruits get more appointments than the FSO A1s who rose through the ranks by dint of hard work.”

It said since taking over the country’s leadership in 2017, the Akufo-Addo government, has continuously been recruiting into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs without considering whether or not the scheme of service, had been expanded to make room for new recruits at the present rate.

Currently, it was said that officers in the Foreign Ministry are now sharing desks and computers and they work in turns since logistics, including office furniture are not enough for everyone.

“Once you finish typing and printing, you leave the desk for another to do theirs”, the source painted the dire situation at the Foreign Ministry.

“What’s more, this letter is the latest list of recruitment that is making the rounds,” the source added saying “most of the people they recruit are family and friends. There are some who live abroad and are made to relocate to Ghana to work at MFA.”

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Police nab six robbers over $27,400 heist from Chinese home

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Security agencies have arrested six people, including three who reportedly impersonated National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) workers and attacked two people at a residence in Kyambogo, Nakawa Division, Kampala City.

The suspects are accused of tying up with ropes a Chinese chef and a maid, at a home in Kampala before robbing Shs100m two weeks ago.

A female suspect seen in a video during the attack was arrested in Ntungamo District where she was constructing a house for her parents, reportedly using part of the robbed money.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said the female suspect led police to others who were in a guest house in Bundibugyo District as they were about to travel to Democratic Republic of Congo to carry out another robbery.

“All the three suspects, who were seen in a viral video, have been arrested and are in custody. We used hi-tech surveillance equipment to track them down.

“A vehicle the suspects had hired to travel to Congo was also impounded. We recovered house-breaking implements,” Mr Enanga said yesterday at police headquarters.

The two men and a woman, wearing helmets and masks, pretended to be workers of NWSC who wanted to check on the water system.

The Chinese cook gave them access to the residence, which is the home of several Chinese nationals.

In the process of inspection, one of the suspects grabbed the Chinese cook and put him in a chokehold. The suspects also grabbed a maid and tied their victims in a room and stole the money kept in another room before they fled.

NWSC spokesperson Samuel Apedel later said the suspects were imposters.

Mr Enanga yesterday said five of the six arrested suspects are residents of Kampala City. The other is a resident of Kasese Town. All the suspects are being held on charges of armed robbery.

“One suspect in custody is an expert in break-ins and opening safes and the entire racket relied on his expertise to carry out the robberies,” he said.

Suspect still at large

Police are yet to arrest a suspect who resides outside the residence where his alleged accomplices robbed money.

Mr Enanga said the unnamed individual is still on the run. “The Criminal Investigations Directorate asset recovery unit has been tasked to recover the robbed money and also seize any property that the suspect could have spent the money on,” he said.

Mr Enanga said most incidents where foreign investors are targeted involve insiders who connive with criminals.

He warned investors to be cautious and take all necessary verification measures while hiring workers at home and office. Following the arrest of the suspects, Mr Apedel yesterday said they were happy with police.

“Let the law take its course,” he said.

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BREAKING: Europe in lockdown as ‘third wave’ of Covid-19 hits

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Trips abroad are looking ‘extremely unlikely’ as a third wave sparks fresh lockdowns and curfews in Europe where countries are attempting to limit the spread of new variants – even as some promise to allow in vaccinated Brit tourists.

A “third Covid” wave across Europe could leave Brits’ summer holiday dreams in tatters yet again. Trips abroad will be “extremely unlikely” this summer due to the risk of new variants being brought back into the UK, a top scientist advising the government has warned.

Hopeful holidaymakers are being warned it’s too soon to bank on holidays abroad as restrictions on international travel could linger. The UK’s own ban on international travel is not set to end until May 17 at the earliest.

Countries including Greece and Portugal still hope to roll out the red carpet to vaccinated Brit travellers as they battle to keep their tourism economies afloat. But experts are warning worrying new variants of the virus and fresh lockdowns in Europe could yet delay longed-for summer trips and reunions for families kept apart.

France, Germany, Italy and Poland are among countries to announce new lockdowns in recent days as the vaccine rollout in Europe continues to be slow.

The Mirror has analyzed what impact the Europe third wave is likely to have on summer holidays, and looked at the individual circumstances in countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal.

 

Source: mirror.co.uk

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Managing Director for State Housing Company (SHC) Confirms Low Interest Rates On New Housing Units

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In an attempt to increase the awareness of the Ghanaian population both at home and the diaspora concerning housing and property ownership in Ghana, the Managing Director for the State Housing company Mr. Kwabena Ampofo Appiah (Nana Vyrus) joined in a question-and-answer session with members on the “National Development Agenda” Club house platform on the 3rd of March 2021.

Club house is a networking app gaining popularity among the Ghanaian youth which serves as an easier avenue to freely interact with users across international borders based on audio-chat. The National Development Agenda platform set up by Kobby Ofori, Kwame Boateng, Akosua Tiana and Lucy allows for idea sharing on a wide range of developmental topics in Ghana.
MD for SHC Mr. Kwabena Ampofo Appiah.

During the conversation, questions asked cut across functions of the SHC to measures put in place to encourage private investors. Mr. Appiah answered all questions comprehensively while entreating members, especially the diaspora, to take advantage of the unbeatable prices offered by the SHC to own a home in Ghana.

He mentioned that the housing deficit in Ghana stands at close to 2 million which would require 200 000 houses to be built annually for the next decade. However, the public and private sector combined are only able to deliver about 40,000 housing units a year.

The State Housing Company is therefore charged with the construction of housing units that cater across all levels of income to bridge the gap in housing deficits that presently exists.
Mr. Appiah acknowledged the bottlenecks the State Housing Company, since its existence in the 1950’s, has experienced in delivering efficiently its mandate of producing affordable housing for the ordinary Ghanaian.

Change of governments, and previously, the absence of a definite long-term plan to begin new projects and ensure completion of already existing projects contributed to the stall.

However, he noted that, since the government of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and management of Mr Kwabena Ampofo Appiah, the SHC has tremendously positive reforms have occurred which have transformed the SHC; conversion into a limited liability company, relaunch and rebranding, cleared debts.

According to the Managing Director, demand for the housing units constructed is high with almost all homes sold immediately after completion.

President Akufo-Addo Cuts Sod for SHC’s Project in Bolgatanga

He continued that, the company has a mortgage system which allows Ghanaians-both home and in the diaspora-who wish to become proud owners of homes to opt for a suitable arrangement for flexible payment schedules. He further shared that prices for homes constructed by the SHC range between eight thousand Ghana Cedis (Ghc 80 000.00) to One million and three hundred thousand Ghana Cedis (Ghc1,300,000.00) which can be paid either upfront or on a mortgage basis.

Mr. Appiah further revealed that the interest incurred on mortgage plans is set between 7% to 12% which is comparatively lower to that of private property agencies.

John Agyekum Kufour Estates Mawuli Court

The question-and-answer session with the Managing Director of the State Housing Company ended with members who joined in well informed of the mandate of the SHC and the process involved in purchasing a home with the company.

The MD reiterated the importance of having such open conversations on activities of state institutions as they play a role in ensuring accountability and increasing the capacity of citizens to capitalize on such benefits offered by the institutions to improve the standard of their lives.

Written by Amanda Baffour-Awuah

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Supreme court dismisses Mahama’s 2020 election petition; says it has no merit

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The Supreme Court has dismissed former President John Mahama‘s petition challenging 2020 Presidential election results today, Thursday, March 4. In delivering the judgment, Chief Justice Anim Yeboah said the petition is dismissed without merit.

Former President John Mahama who re-contested the election on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), took the Electoral Commission to court, challenging the validity of the Commission’s 9th December 2020 declaration of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the winner of the poll.

Mr. Mahama also contended in his petition that, President Akufo-Addo did not meet the constitutional threshold for election to the high office of the president yet was so declared.

He has been praying the court in the last two months, albeit amidst strong opposition from lawyers for President Akufo-Addo and the Electoral Commission, to nullify the declaration and to cause a re-run between him and President Akufo-Addo.

The Supreme Court’s judgment is supposed to address five issues that were set forth for determination, including the question of whether or not President Akufo-Addo met the constitutional threshold for election to the office of president.

Source: www.theurbanafrica.com

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Comedian OB Nominated For The Maiden Edition of Citi TVs Entertainment Achievement Award.

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Renowned Optometrist and Comedian Amponsah Obarima Akuoko popularly known as OB Amponsah has been nominated for the maiden edition of Entertainment Achievement Awards.

 

The comedian who has been on a very impressive form has been a main attraction for many comedy lovers. The honour comes as no surprise as he is arguably the best comedian in the country at the moment.

 

Being a very funny and witty personality, Comedian OB has been able to capture the hearts of many comedy lovers. His has performed on major comedy platforms in and outside the country which include Easter Comedy Show, Night of a thousand laughs, Lord of the Ribs to name a few.

 

The comedian is nominated alongside other top performing comedians; DKB, Foster Romanus, Lekzy DeComic and Jerry the Comedian.

Entertainment Achievement Awards is an award Scheme organised by Citi TV. The awards scheme seeks to recognise, unearth, spotlight, encourage and celebrate entertainers and entertainment industry players, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of their art and in their chosen fields of endeavour.

 

The main award ceremony will be held virtually on March 27, 2021.

 

The Entertainment Achievement Awards is powered by Citi TV and sponsored by Good Day Energy Drink.

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