THIS MORNING: Booster registration open; Post offices + gov’t facilities closed to the unvaxed; Powell, Moderna comments hit markets.
Good morning, friends, and welcome to December. Our favourite month of the year is kicking off with the return of 2020-style travel restrictions abroad and new vaccine requirements here at home. Is anyone else feeling like a glitch in the matrix has turned us all into extras in some pre-apocalyptic version of Groundhog Day — or maybe Hot Tub Time Machine?
PSA #1- You can’t get into a government facility, Egypt Post branch, or notary office starting today without proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test that’s no older than 72 hours, cabinet spokesman Nader Saad told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi last night (watch, runtime: 14:56).
The exception to the rule: Unvaccinated citizens will still be able to access hospitals for treatment and police stations in case of an emergency.
People who haven’t been vaccinated WILL be able to go to the bank today. Customers can still enter bank branches without showing proof of vaccination — but will need to wear a face mask and adhering to other precautionary measures, Saad said yesterday.
Wait, wasn’t today supposed to be the first “no jab, no bank day”? Indeed it was: Local Development Ministry spokesperson Khaled Qassem made the announcement during a phone-in interview on El Hekaya.
PSA #2- At-risk Egyptians can now register to receive their booster shots: The eligible groups — the elderly, people with chronic medical conditions, and people with high exposure to the virus such as medical staff — who have been fully vaccinated for over six months, can now register to get their booster shots on the Health Ministry’s website (www.egcovac.mohp.gov.eg), Saad announced on Kelma Akhira.
PSA #3- Amid all of the travel restrictions, a faint ray of sunshine: Egyptian expats won’t need to pay to renew Saudi visas from now through February, Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports announced.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD-
It wasn’t a happy day in US markets yesterday after an ill-timed hawkish turn by Fed chief Jay Powell added fuel to the Omicron-fanned market volatility. Equity gauges across the world were already in the red by the time Powell spoke on Capitol Hill, driven lower by a pessimistic prediction by Moderna’s CEO, who told the Financial Times that there will be a “material drop” in the efficacy of covid vaccines against the new variant. But the sell-off was soon exacerbated by the Fed chairman, who told a Senate committee that the central bank could finish withdrawing stimulus “a few months sooner” than planned due to “high” inflationary pressures.
At close: The S&P 500 and the Dow both lost 1.9% and the Nasdaq fell 1.6%. Brent crude dropped almost 4% to new three-month lows, the greenback declined 0.4%, and US treasury yields fell.
The EGX dodged the blow yesterday, closing before Powell spoke. The benchmark EGX30 closed up just over 1.6%.
“Powell just added gasoline to the fire by finally admitting that inflation isn’t going away as fast as anyone would like,” one strategist told Bloomberg. “A faster tapering is probably coming as a result, and that has markets worried the punch bowl is leaving the party.”
Asian markets are in the green this morning and futures suggest Wall Street will open in the green and shares in Toronto will be flat at the opening bell.
CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
It’s a new month. The key news triggers to keep your eye on at the start of December:
- PMI: Purchasing managers’ index figures for November for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar will be released on Sunday, 5 December. Figures for the UAE, which normally come out on the same day as Egypt and Saudi, will be released two days later on Tuesday, 7 December.
- Foreign reserves: November’s foreign reserves figures will be released during the first week of the month.
- Inflation: Inflation figures for November will be released on Thursday, 9 December. Data for inflation typically appears on the 10th of every month, but is moved up one day if that falls on a Friday.
- Interest rates: The Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee will hold its final meeting for the year to review interest rates on Thursday, 16 December.
The new round of Silicon Waha’s Startup Factory will kick off on 10 December at the Assiut Technology Zone. The program will offer marketing tips and tricks for startup founders, who can apply here.
Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.
*** It’s Hardhat day — your weekly briefing of all things infrastructure in Egypt: Enterprise’s industry vertical focuses each Wednesday on infrastructure, covering everything from energy, water, transportation, and urban development, as well as social infrastructure such as health and education.
In today’s issue: What role does infrastructure play in lessening Egypt’s food insecurity? Last week, we looked at the forces straining our food system. Today, we dive into the infrastructural issues — most of which have to do with supply chain efficiency (or lack thereof) and high levels of food waste — and what is being done to fix these problems.