Weekly Client Update – Friday 3rd September

Here is the latest news and updates from local and international events, market trends and analysis from our senior management team.

Local update

All secondary school students and staff in Jersey are being encouraged to take twice weekly lateral flow tests in an effort to manage the spread of Covid-19 as the new school term approaches.

A scheme, which was launched yesterday, is open to all pupils and staff who can register to receive their own free lateral-flow testing kits, which can be collected from a number of parish halls from today after online registration. The kits will also be available for collection from secondary schools from Monday,

Deputy medical officer of health Dr Ivan Muscat said that the testing, which he described as ‘quick and easy to do’, was crucial to help manage the spread of the virus as schools return.  A campaign will be launched to explain how to use the kits.

‘Lateral-flow tests detect cases quickly, meaning positive cases can be isolated immediately. By making self-testing at home available to all secondary schools and staff more cases will be detected, breaking chains of transmission and preventing individual cases from becoming outbreaks,’ Dr Muscat said. He also reiterated the importance of all eligible students undergoing vaccination as soon as possible, adding that more than a third of 16- and 17-year-olds had already been vaccinated.

Children’s and Education Minister Scott Wickenden said he was grateful for the support of the parish halls in making testing kits available for collection. ‘It is vital that we do everything possible for children and young people to attend school,’ he said.

The testing kits are available from most Parish halls but can also be collected from the reception desk at the Children, Young People, Education and Skills Department at Highlands Campus. All secondary schools will advise parents how they can collect testing kits on Monday 6 September.

All those wanting to obtain kits, which contain 25 individual tests, must register using the online portal, via the gov.je website.

Meanwhile the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced that people with severely weakened immune systems should have a third vaccine dose as part of their primary COVID-19 vaccination schedule.

Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat said: “We welcome the news that the JCVI has confirmed that this third dose should be offered to people over 12 who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose, including those with leukaemia, advanced HIV and recent organ transplants.”

“It is now clear that individuals who are severely immunosuppressed, due to underlying health conditions or medical treatment, may not mount a full immune response to two doses of COVID-19 vaccination, and a third dose of the vaccine will improve their chances of developing a good antibody response”

In Jersey there are currently 259 islanders with Covid-19 of which, 1 is in hospital.

Mixed markets

The FTSE 100 is up 15 points. The blue-chip index rose 0.2,with the global miner BHP Group adding 1.4% – rebounding from a 5.6% fall in the previous session. The domestic focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index edged 0.1% higher, lifted by 10.1% jump in Discoverie Group’s shares.

At midday today, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.1%, while those for the broader S&P 500 rose 0.2%, with the index having hit another record close on Thursday. Futures for the tech-laden Nasdaq-100 added 0.1%.

The STOXX index of 600 European companies was flat at 474.30 points, close to its record high of 476.16 points touched last month.

The Hang Seng Tech Index closed down 1.1% in Hong Kong, in part led by Alibaba Group, which fell 3.6%. The decline came on concerns that the e-commerce giant’s $15.5 billion pledge to Beijing’s “common prosperity” vision would hit profits in coming years.

Increased earnings in Jersey’s private sector

New official data shows that the average earnings of full-time employees in Jersey’s private sector has increased by almost 4% in one year, while the average earnings of employees in the public sector increased by only 0.1%. The results were published in Statistics Jersey’s Index of Average Earnings report in June 2021, where it also revealed that over the 12 months to June 2021, private sector earnings increased 3.9% – the highest record since 2008.

According to the findings of an annual survey of businesses, the average weekly earnings per full-time equivalent employee were 3.3% higher than in June last year. Although different areas of the private sector have experienced different changes. The report stated that the average earnings recorded by the agricultural sector has decreased, with an annual fall of 1%.

Hotels, restaurants and bars show the highest annual growth rate, with a year-on-year increase of 15.7%. The report indicated that for other private sector industries, the annual change in earnings was between 1.1% and 7.0%. In addition, it was reported that Jersey’s headline inflation rate in June 2021 was 3.5%.

Prices of houses still rising

Building society, Nationwide, has reported that UK house prices rose in August and are now 13% higher than before the pandemic. It stated that annual house price growth has accelerated to 11%, with the average house costing £248,857. Up by 2%, property prices recorded their second largest monthly increase in 15 years. This increase came as a surprise given the reduced benefits of stamp holidays in some areas of the UK since the end of June.

Locally, property prices in Jersey have increased by 18% in the last year. The average price of a house in the second quarter of 2020 was £533,000, compared to the current average price of £629,000.

Continued shortage of truck drivers

Wholesalers have warned that the continued national shortage of truck drivers in the UK could lead to increased food prices. The shortage has been attributed to the untimely combination of Brexit and the after-effects of the pandemic. It is estimated that the industry has a shortfall of approximately 100,000 workers. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned that “UK food manufacturing was under severe strain because of shortages of HGV drivers and other supply chain staff”, suggesting that some production may need to take place outside of the UK.

Introducing new E10 petrol

In a bid for the UK to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 – after the government announced new climate change commitments – the UK will be introducing E10 petrol, the new eco-friendly petrol, to filling stations around the country. By replacing the current petrol grades, the hope is that annual emissions will be cut by 75,000 tonnes – the equivalent of removing 350,000 cars off the road. All petrol vehicles built after 2011 should be compatible with the new E10 petrol.