Weekly Client Update – Friday 20th August

Local update

A Vaccine booster Programme could begin in Jersey within weeks Ministers have reported.

The final details of when such an initiative will start have yet to be announced by the government, but the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, whose advice the Island follows, has said a booster programme could commence next month. Deputy Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham said the government would make an announcement once it had received confirmation from the JCVI. Dr Ivan Muscat, the Island’s deputy medical officer of health, has said the booster programme was required to protect vulnerable Islanders during the winter  ‘All the vaccines will have a waning strength and waning immunity. We therefore do need a booster to cover, especially the vulnerable, this coming winter period.’

Senator Farnham said: ‘The JCVI has advised that a booster programme could begin in mid-September which would maximise protection in those who are most vulnerable ahead of the winter months’. The vaccination team have been continuing at pace in preparing for a booster programme, which will be administered at Fort Regent and will be at no cost to Islanders. He added that the Island was entering the final stages of its Reconnection Roadmap ‘largely due to the defence’ that the vaccine had provided, and continued to provide, to the community.

Covid Cases continue to fall, as of today there are 388 islanders suffering from Covid with 10 in hospital.

Jersey’s Vaccination programme head Becky Sherrington said she wanted young Islanders who had already had a first dose ‘to encourage their friends to get vaccinated too, particularly ahead of the restrictions being lifted on 26 August and before going back to school in a couple of weeks’ time’ this would provide good protection against Covid and long Covid, she said.

The latest COVID-19 vaccination statistics as at Sunday 15 August, show 81% of adult Islanders are fully vaccinated against Covid, and 25% of 16 and 17 year olds have had their first dose since becoming eligible on 5 August. Other key statistics: 86% of adult Islanders have had one dose, 87% of Islanders aged over 30 years old are fully vaccinated, 65% of Islanders aged 18-29 have had one dose. 75,506 have now received their first dose and 70,933 second doses have been administered.

Senator Farnham encouraged Islanders who had not yet had their first dose, or who needed a second, to book an appointment or attend one of the walk-in sessions at the vaccination centre. This is particularly important for those 16- and 17-year-old Islanders who have recently become eligible for a first dose. Getting vaccinated now will provide the best protection ahead of schools returning,’ he said.

Meanwhile those who have been fully vaccinated in Jersey who are travelling to France, are now able to use an official QR code certificate to prove their vaccination status .More than 2,000 requests have been submitted via the helpline for the interim certificate which they will have started to receive via email. Those wanting to request a code can still do so via the helpline on 0800 735 5566. Islanders will receive via email, a PDF certificate containing a QR code for each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that they have received in Jersey, the most recent of which will be highlighted.

Anyone fully vaccinated in Jersey can apply for the QR code certificate but should allow for 2-3 days after their second dose, for confirmation of their vaccination status to be processed. Islanders who have received either of their doses elsewhere cannot currently apply for a QR code, but work remains ongoing to rectify this as soon as possible to allow people vaccinated outside of Jersey to receive a QR code.

The QR codes can be scanned into the French app ‘TousAntiCovid’ which can be downloaded on Android or Apple smartphones, or printed out, which will allow entry to certain public venues in France.  The French authorities require a period of 7 days after a second dose has been administered for the QR codes to be valid.

Mixed markets

The FTSE 100 index was down 12.98 points, or 0.2%, at 7,045.88 at noon, after initially opening 0.3% higher. The mid-cap FTSE 250 index was up 28.49 points, or 0.1%, at 23,635.36. The All-Share index was down 0.1% at 1,259.18.

Wall Street opened in the red but moderated its losses shortly after. By the time the market closed, only The Dow Jones 30 remained in the red, ending the day down 0.2%, or 67 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite both shook off their temporary losses and each closed 0.1% higher.

European markets are mixed. The DAX is higher by 0.06%, while the CAC 40 is leading the FTSE 100 lower. They are down 0.43% and 0.07% respectively.

Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Shanghai Composite gained 1.14%, while the Nikkei 225 led the Hang Seng lower. They fell 2.07% and 0.27% respectively.

UK inflation slows to 2%

As price growth for clothing, footwear and recreational goods eased, UK inflation slowed more than expected in July, but it was predicted that it would pick up again over the rest of the year. According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics this week, the price of consumer goods and services rose at an annual rate of 2% in July, slower than 2.5% in the previous month.

Chief economist at KPMG UK, Yael Selfin said, “the fall in year-on-year inflation last month masks the strength of inflationary pressures currently within the UK economy”. The “tumble” in July’s UK inflation “feels remarkably like the calm before the storm”, said James Smith, economist at ING.

The Office for National Statistics attributed almost half of the slowdown to “base effects” linked to rising prices in the corresponding period last July, when many services reopened after the first Covid-19 lockdown and clothing, restaurant, hotel and furniture prices rose.

Job vacancies at a record high

As the labour market rebounded from the effects of the pandemic, job vacancies in the UK have reached a record high, with growth in recruitment surpassing economists’ expectations in the three months to June. The Office for National Statistics reported on Tuesday, that the number of people in employment rose to 32.28m in the second quarter, up 95,000 from January to May,

“The world of work continues to rebound robustly from the effects of the pandemic,” said Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics. The number of people on payroll rose to 28.9m in July, up 182,000 from the previous month, but still 200,000 below pre-pandemic levels.

Da Afghanistan Bank reserves frozen

While the Taliban continues to  wreak havoc in Kabul, it’s no surprise that Afghanistan’s economy might nosedive. A Biden administration official has told the BBC, that any central bank assets the Afghan government has in the US will not be made available to the Taliban,

Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) has reserves of roughly £6.5bn, most of which is held in safe, liquid assets such as US Treasury bonds and gold offshore. Shipments of dollars, international loans and aid are also in doubt after the militants took control.

PCR testing a rip off

Former chairman of the Competition and Markets Authority, Lord Tyrie has said that PCR tests for travel have become “a predictable Covid rip-off”. Tests cost about £75 on average, with some reaching hundreds of pounds. Holidaymakers have objected to high prices and poor service from many of the 400-plus test firms listed on the government’s website.

Last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid asked the CMA to investigate “excessive” pricing and “exploitative practices” among PCR Covid test firms. Initially, the CMA said it would take up to a month to report back. But after a chorus of objection from the travel industry, the CMA said it was reviewing the situation “immediately”.

Lloyds to become landlords

According to internal documents, Lloyds Banking Group is planning to become one of the UK’s largest landlords by purchasing 50,000 homes in the next 10 years. Last month , the bank announced its entry into the private home rental market under the Citra Living brand. They are focusing on diversifying the bank’s income away from traditional lending, which is being squeezed by low interest rates.

The Financial Times came across an internal job advertisement, which revealed that Citra has set a “strategic challenge” of reaching 10,000 properties by the end of 2025, with a further aim to hit 50,000 by 2030. It estimated that with 10,000 homes, Citra would have a balance sheet worth about £4bn and generate about £300m in pre-tax profit. The 2025 target would make Citra larger than the current size of Grainger, the UK’s largest private residential landlord, which owns about 9,100 properties and has a market capitalization of £2.1bn.

UK to become exporter of solid-state batteries

British manufacturers feel that the UK could become a major exporter of solid-state batteries within a decade, since a group of companies joined forces to develop prototypes.

Seven institutions have signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to work together on the technology. They include the FTSE 100 chemicals company Johnson Matthey, Britishvolt – the battery start-up backed by Glencore – and Oxford University.

Johnson Matthey’s chief technology officer, Maurits van Tol,  has said that the consortium was able to “cover the value chain” from materials through to final battery manufacture, allowing it to compete with other large companies racing to commercialise the technology, such as Toyota and Quantumscape, which is a US start-up backed by Germany’s Volkswagen.

The government-backed organisation, Faraday Institution ,which is focused on bringing the UK’s academic battery research to market, put together the British consortium. The other partners in the consortium will be the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, Emerson & Renwick, and the University of Warwick.