COVID-19 Bulletin: August 20

August 20, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

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  • Oil prices fell for a sixth straight session Thursday, dropping to less than $66/bbl, the lowest since May and a 15% decline since early July. The losing streak marks the longest stretch of daily declines since 2019. 
  • Crude futures were lower in mid-day trading today, with WTI down 0.9% at $63.11/bbl and Brent off 1% at $65.81/bbl. Natural gas was 1.8% higher at $3.89/MMBtu.
  • European natural gas prices dropped 10% Wednesday after faulty data mistakenly showed that oil from Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline had started flowing into Germany. 
  • Brazil is in early talks with Argentina on the possibility of constructing a billion-dollar oil pipeline from Argentina’s Vaca Muerta shale reserves to help lower gas prices in Brazil. 
  • Exxon Mobil’s board is mulling a pledge to lower its carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, while the company expects recent investments in Brazilian offshore wind to help achieve that goal. 
  • Construction of a 300-megawatt solar-powered electricity plant in Israel is expected to be completed by 2024, paving the way to reach 30% renewable energy production by 2030. 
  • A new study suggests that Switzerland needs to invest 2% of its GDP annually over the next three decades to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. 
  • Tesla is partnering with two Japanese energy companies to use its Megapack battery technology to build an energy storage facility in Northern Japan with capacity to power 500 homes. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • Tropical Storm Henri is expected to strengthen into a hurricane over the western Atlantic before brushing New England and Long Island with heavy rains and storm surges through early next week. 
  • Hurricane Grace made landfall on Mexico’s Caribbean coast Thursday, with heavy rain and potential flooding expected to last through today. The storm is expected to gain strength in the Gulf of Mexico before hitting Mexico’s mainland late today or early Saturday. 
  • Strong winds in Northern California enlarged the state’s Dixie Fire to more than 678,000 acres Thursday with just 35% containment. The state’s Caldor Fire grew to more than 65,000 acres Thursday with zero containment. 
  • Roughly 60% of Minnesota’s streams and rivers are flowing at or near record lows amid unusual drought conditions, prompting state officials to impose water restrictions in some areas. North Dakota also is experiencing drought, hampering production of some of the state’s staple food products.
  • Portions of China’s Ningbo port, the world’s third busiest, are expected to remain closed the rest of August following last week’s COVID-19-induced shutdown. A growing number of ships have lined up outside the port, with the expectation of cascading crowding at other ports along Asia-Europe and trans-Pacific routes.
  • Most German businesses expect supply chain disruptions to persist into 2022, survey results show. 
  • The Baltic Dry Index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, rose for an eighth straight session Thursday to its highest measure in 12 years.
  • Toyota, so far resilient against the global semiconductor shortage, announced forecasts of a 90,000-vehicle production loss in August and a 40% production loss in September due to supply disruptions.
  • Volkswagen warned it likely will cut vehicle production further in the coming weeks due to the global chip shortage. 
  • The global semiconductor chip shortage is expected to reduce global auto production by 7.1 million vehicles this year. 
  • Maersk inked a contract to obtain “green” methanol for its first carbon-neutral ship scheduled to launch in 2023, part of the company’s pledge to have a carbon-neutral fleet by 2030. 

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 138,472 new COVID-19 infections and 908 virus deaths Thursday, approaching highs not seen since February
  • More than 1 million COVID-19 shots were administered in the U.S. yesterday, the highest daily vaccination total in nearly two months. 
The Race Towards Full Vaccination
  • The White House defended its decision to provide COVID-19 booster shots to Americans after criticism from the World Health Organization, which argues vaccine priority should be given to low-income nations.  
  • Florida saw 23,335 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, while total virus hospitalizations in the state rose to a record 16,973
  • With Georgia hospitals running low on ICU beds and turning to mobile morgues, the state’s governor signed an executive order yesterday barring localities from enforcing mask or vaccine mandates on businesses. 
  • COVID-19 deaths in Illinois, new infections in Colorado and hospitalizations in Rhode Island have risen to their highest levels since May.  
  • Ohio’s three-week moving average for new COVID-19 cases rose to 2,140, the highest since March. 
  • At least 29 people awaited ICU beds in Alabama yesterday, as the state’s hospitals surpassed maximum capacity due to a flood of COVID-19 patients. More than 260 infected children were admitted to the state’s hospitals last week, the highest rate in the nation. 
  • ICU beds in Tennessee are almost entirely full, as the state reported an eightfold surge of COVID-19 patients between July 1 and Aug. 15. 
  • Texas’ Supreme Court clashed with the state’s governor, issuing a new ruling that will temporarily allow schools to keep mask mandates over the administration’s recent order. The CEO of the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world, says that 18% of the state’s new COVID-19 cases are among children, while health experts predict virus deaths will continue rising over the next several weeks. 
  • New York City’s mayor is facing pressure to bring back remote learning options amid a surge of COVID-19 in the city, even as 75% of residents have received one shot of a vaccine. Digital learning has picked up again in many districts throughout the nation. 
  • New York City’s new digital vaccine app, which allows users to retrieve their COVID-19 inoculation record for admission to indoor activities, has already received more than 3 million downloads
  • Oregon followed Washington in extending a COVID-19 vaccine mandate to all public and private schoolteachers while also adding healthcare workers to the list. New Jersey and Connecticut announced similar requirements.  
  • Connecticut will require all state employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Apple is pushing back its corporate return-to-office date to at least January from a planned reopening in October. 
  • Fox News now requires employees to report their COVID-19 vaccination status, with unvaccinated staff required to wear masks, socially distance and undergo frequent testing. 
  • Three fully vaccinated U.S. senators tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday. 
  • Teenagers are more likely to contract COVID-19 compared to younger children, but toddlers up to age 3 are more likely to transmit the virus, new data shows. 
  • Plastic COVID-19 barriers, now commonly found in many public and private establishments, may provide less protection against the virus than originally thought, a new study shows.  
  • The White House indicated it will not seek to extend additional pandemic unemployment benefits beyond their current expiration date in September. 
Millions to Lose Benefits As Pandemic Jobless Aid Expires
  • Airbnb said it expects bookings to slow from the second quarter and stay below pre-pandemic levels amid the resurgence of COVID-19 in the U.S. 
  • Cosmetics demand is surging after a year of pandemic lockdowns, with Estee Lauder raising its forecast for 2022. 
  • Amazon announced plans to open several retail stores in the U.S. that will operate like department stores as the company expands its reach into brick-and-mortar retail. 
  • U.S. department stores Macy’s and Kohl’s both reported strong second-quarter net sales amid a recent uptick in consumer spending following the country’s gradual reopening of offices, prompting both firms to raise sales and profit forecasts for the year. 
  • McDonald’s claims to have reached its goal of sourcing all its paper food packaging from sustainable or recycled fiber

International Markets

  • Japan reported a record 25,146 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, a tenfold increase from one month ago, as health officials warn of severe strain to the nation’s healthcare system. 
  • Troops have been sent to Vietnam’s largest city to enforce strict pandemic stay-at-home orders as the nation’s daily virus deaths rise to the highest levels of the pandemic. 
  • Researchers in Thailand are studying the possibility of administering COVID-19 shots under the skin of vaccine recipients, a process that could provide the same level of immunity while using less of a dose, hoping to stretch the nation’s limited supply of vaccines. The country reported nearly 21,000 new infections Thursday.  
  • China reported just five locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 Thursday, a sign the country’s most recent outbreak is winding down. 
  • Sydney is tightening pandemic restrictions with a new curfew after New South Wales reported 681 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, a record. 
  • New Zealand extended its pandemic lockdown after 11 new COVID-19 cases were reported Thursday. 
  • The U.K. reported 36,533 new COVID-19 infections and 114 virus deaths Thursday, while new data shows up to 94% of adults in the nation have virus antibodies. 
How many people have Covid-19 antibodies in the UK?
  • COVID-19 patients in France’s ICU beds climbed above 2,000 for the first time in more than two months. The nation added Algeria and Morocco to its “high risk” pandemic list. 
  • Mexico is seeing a new surge of COVID-19 hospital patients in their 30s and 40s, a group with large levels of vaccine hesitancy.
  • A recent British study suggests existing COVID-19 vaccines are less effective against the highly contagious Delta variant, with the protection beginning to wane within 90 days after the final dosage.
Pfizer Losing Efficacy Faster Against Delta Variant
  • Taiwan’s export orders, a proxy for global tech demand, rose 21.4% from a year earlier to $55.3 billion in July, the 17th month of expansion and higher than analyst expectations. 
  • Spending on U.K. credit and debit cards fell to 94% of its pre-pandemic level the week ended Aug. 12, a 5% drop compared to a week earlier, while national retail spending fell 2.5% from June to July. 

At M. Holland

  • Matt Zessin, our Automotive Market Manager, was interviewed about materials trends for electric vehicles on the Automotive News Daily Drive podcast, accessible here.
  • What’s the outlook for plastics supply and the global supply chain? Join us for our next Plastics Reflections Web Series. Our distinguished panel will include guests from Business Publishing International, MTS Logistics and LyondellBasell. Register here for the event on Thursday, Aug. 26 at 1:00 pm CT/2:00 pm ET.
  • M. Holland’s 3D Printing group offers a rapid response alternative for producing selected parts where resin availability is tight during prevailing force majeure. For more information, email our 3D Printing team.
  • Market Expertise: M. Holland offers a host of resources to clients, prospects and suppliers across nine strategic markets. To arrange a videoconference or meeting with any of our Market Managers, please visit our website.

Thank you,

M. Holland Company

We will provide further COVID-19 bulletins as circumstances dictate. For all COVID-19 updates and notices, please refer to the M. Holland website.

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