COVID-19 Bulletin: August 26

August 26, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

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  • Oil prices extended their rally Wednesday, rising an additional 1% to 10% for the week, the largest three-day gain since November.
  • The four-week average for U.S. total product supplied, a proxy for fuel demand, soared to nearly 21 million bpd, the highest since March 2020, while domestic crude stockpiles dropped to their lowest level since January 2020. 
  • Oil futures were lower in mid-day trading, with WTI down 0.9% at $67.72/bbl and Brent down 0.8% at $71.64/bbl. Natural gas jumped 6.0% at $4.13/MMBtu.
  • Over objections from environmental groups, Minnesota’s top court will allow construction to begin on Enbridge Energy’s replacement of its Line 3 oil pipeline through North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The expanded line is expected to reach capacity of 760,000 bpd, nearly double current levels. 
  • A European court ruled that Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany is not exempt from EU regulations requiring the pipeline’s owners to be different from its suppliers, although it is not yet clear how the ruling will impact the controversial project, which is set to begin operation in the coming days. 
  • Denmark and Costa Rica are looking to form an international alliance that would set a date to phase out oil and gas production and stop granting new leases for exploration, a bid to meet stringent long-term goals of the Paris climate agreement.
  • China’s state-run energy company Sinopec announced the discovery of a new 100-million-ton oil and gas field in the country’s Xinjiang region. 
  • Imperial Oil, one of Canada’s biggest oil producers, detailed a new plan to process vegetable oil into renewable diesel, a part of majority-owner Exxon Mobil’s goal of producing more than 40,000 bpd of low-emission fuels by 2025.
  • California announced plans to increase solar capacity by 1.6 gigawatts and wind capacity by 0.4 gigawatts this year to meet its goal of 50% renewable generation by 2025. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • The White House approved California’s request for a disaster declaration due to raging wildfires in the state’s northern region. The Caldor Fire has grown to more than 126,000 acres with just 11% containment, threatening evacuations for the Lake Tahoe basin, while containment of the state’s Dixie Fire exceeds 40%, prompting the lifting of some evacuation orders. 
The Growing Danger of Californian Wildfires
  • Minnesota’s Greenwood Fire grew to 21,720 acres yesterday, with fire crews hoping cooler temperatures the next few days will help contain the blaze.
  • The global semiconductor shortage and COVID-19 isolation requirements have combined to lower the U.K.’s car output in July to its lowest level since 1956
  • The Baltic Dry Index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, snapped an 11-session rally after reaching its highest levels in more than a decade, falling 8 points to 4,193 Wednesday. 
  • More than 90% of seafaring employees of HMM, South Korea’s largest container shipper, have agreed to delay a planned strike by one week as wage talks continue.  
  • A shortage of key components and higher raw material and energy costs have forced manufacturers into bidding wars for space on vessels, pushing freight rates to record highs and prompting some exporters to raise prices or cancel shipments. 
  • Taiwan Semiconductor, the world’s largest chipmaker, plans to raise prices by up to 20% later this year or early next. 
  • Western Digital is in advanced talks with Japan’s Kioxia Holdings over a potential $20 billion merger deal, the latest in a string of proposed or completed semiconductor acquisitions adding short-term disruption to the industry.
  • Vietnam will deploy troops to the industrial Binh Duong province ahead of predictions for 50,000 new regional COVID-19 cases in the next few weeks. The province is home to production facilities for dozens of major firms, including Samsung and Apple suppliers. 
  • Chinese carmaker XPeng shipped its first batch of P7 electric vehicles to Norway, the company’s first move into the European market. 
  • The New York Shipping Exchange is investing to strengthen its platform for managing multi-year freight contracts to help protect companies from supply chain disruptions, claiming that ineffective contracting currently costs the industry more than $20 billion per year. 
  • Home Depot will boost inventories for its highest demand products, reporting that customer transactions of more than $1,000 rose by 24% year over year in the second quarter.
  • Philadelphia-based retailer Urban Outfitters has turned to air cargo to replenish inventories during continued disruption in seaborne shipping, including port delays and high rates. 
  • Beginning in 2023, Toyota plans to manufacture 1,400-pound fuel cell modules for freight trucks with capacity to tow roughly 40 tons of cargo up to 300 miles.  
  • The U.S. approved license applications for China-based telecom giant Huawei to buy chips for its auto components business as the company shifts its focus to businesses less likely to face U.S. trade bans.

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 148,143 new COVID-19 cases and 1,456 virus fatalities Wednesday. 
  • The number of people getting their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine has jumped more than 70% since mid-July, with the U.S. administering an average of 450,000 first jabs per day. 
  • The White House is expected to accelerate the timeline from eight to six months for people receiving a third “booster” dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Florida reported 26,203 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, a record, as more than 17,000 residents are currently hospitalized with the virus. The state is averaging 227 virus deaths per day, the most in the U.S., and 68 hospitals are down to a mere 48-hour supply of oxygen
  • New Mexico has been forced to create a wait list for ICU beds as COVID-19 hospitalizations there surged 20% yesterday, with 90% of those hospitalized unvaccinated. 
  • The number of children testing positive for COVID-19 has risen to levels not seen since last winter, from 38,000 per week at the end of July to more than 180,000 in the week ending Aug. 19. Pediatric hospitalizations, meanwhile, have broached new pandemic highs, peaking at an average of 303 new admissions per day last week.
  • Mississippi has quarantined more than 65,000 K-12 students due to COVID-19 exposure, accounting for 15% of the state’s students, while nurses are quitting due to burnout, with 2,000 fewer nurses in the state since the beginning of the year. 
  • New York abruptly added 12,000 additional COVID-19 deaths to its official tally since the start of the pandemic.
  • Louisiana reported 3,814 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and 139 virus deaths, its highest daily fatality count since the start of the pandemic.
  • Ohio reported 4,600 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the most since February. 
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in Northern Texas are projected to surpass levels seen last winter by early September, while a Dallas county judge ruled against the governor’s orders banning county-imposed mask mandates. 
  • Roughly 25% of new COVID-19 infections from May to July in Los Angeles occurred in fully vaccinated people. 
  • COVID-19 cases in Meade County, South Dakota, surged 1,550% following the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally two weeks ago.
  • Chicago will mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all city employees effective Oct. 15. 
  • Deutsche Bank will only allow fully vaccinated staff onto its U.S. trading floors, the latest financial company to impose a similar mandate. 
  • Princess Cruises is delaying the return of its Diamond Princess cruise ship to sailing until spring 2022 amid a resurgence of COVID-19.
  • Moderna has submitted its COVID-19 vaccine for full approval from the FDA, while Pfizer/BioNTech started the approval process for its booster shot. 
  • A booster shot of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine provided a ninefold increase in antibodies, new trial data shows.  
  • Ford Motors is pushing back its return-to-office date to January 2022 amid a rising number of COVID-19 infections and is considering a vaccine mandate. 
  • UPS has completed its first drone delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to a hospital in North Carolina, with the technology potentially enabling inoculations in hard-to-reach areas. 
  • A growing number of smartphone apps allow users to display their COVID-19 vaccination status and search for other users and businesses that support the shots. 
  • First-time jobless claims rose by 4,000 last week to 353,000, while annualized GDP rose by 6.6% in the second quarter. 
  • Durable goods orders slipped 0.1% in July but remain strong, with a drop in aircraft orders offsetting a 0.7% increase in core durable goods orders month over month.  
  • Only $5.1 billion of an allotted $46.5 billion in federal pandemic renters’ aid has been distributed, the U.S. Treasury Department reports. 
  • Despite a rebounding national economy, the U.S. labor market is down roughly 5.7 million jobs compared to February 2020, prompting more private and public employers to offer large sign-up bonuses and other perks on hiring. 
  • New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods were unexpectedly flat in July due to supply shortages and a shift in demand to services, as business spending shows early signs of slowing after robust first-half growth.
  • American Airlines downgraded its August revenue forecasts, expecting a hit to travel from the U.S.’s most recent COVID-19 surge.
  • Google’s self-driving project Waymo has begun testing its autonomous robo-taxi service in San Francisco. 
  • Carbon dioxide emissions from the global electric power sector surged in the first half of 2021, rising 5% above pre-pandemic levels as lockdowns were lifted and economies reopened. 

International Markets

  • India recorded 46,164 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, a massive surge of 10,000 cases from the day before and the most daily infections in a month.
  • Sydney reported 838 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, a record, even as the region moves into its third month of ultrastrict pandemic lockdowns. The surge pushed Australia’s total new infections past 1,000 for the first time. 
  • New Zealand reported 68 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, the most since April of last year as the nation’s latest virus cluster continues to grow. 
  • Indonesia granted emergency use to Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, as the country reported more than 18,000 new infections in the past 24 hours. 
  • Thailand reported more than 18,000 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and nearly 300 virus deaths. Researchers in the country developed a method that can extract 20% more vaccine doses from shot vials, a potential breakthrough for increasing inoculation rates across the globe.  
  • The U.S. will donate 1 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam, hoping to boost the country’s abysmal vaccination rate of just 2% of the population.  
  • Taiwan reported zero COVID-19 cases Wednesday for the first time since May, after its most recent virus outbreak killed more than 800 people. 
  • The U.K. reported 35,847 new COVID-19 cases and 148 deaths Wednesday, a respective 12.1% and 13.4% rise since last week.
  • Scotland reported 5,021 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the second daily record in as many days.
  • Pfizer will supply Switzerland with an additional 14 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine over the next two years, enough to cover the nation’s population through 2023. 
  • Brazil will begin administering COVID-19 booster shots to immunocompromised people and adults over age 70.
  • A new U.K. study shows that the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca waned within five to six months
  • India is hoping to resume exporting COVID-19 vaccine doses in 2022, once the bulk of its population has been vaccinated against the virus. 
  • The EU is meeting today to discuss reimposing travel restrictions on U.S. visitors amid a surge in COVID-19 infections. 
  • Air Canada and Lufthansa will require all airline crews to be vaccinated against COVID-19.   

At M. Holland

  • Today: What’s the outlook for plastics supply and the global supply chain? Join us for our Plastics Reflections Web Series featuring panelists from Business Publishing International, MTS Logistics, LyondellBasell and M. Holland. Register here for today’s webinar at 1:00 pm CT/2:00 pm ET.
  • Matt Zessin, our Automotive Market Manager, was interviewed about materials trends for electric vehicles on the Automotive News Daily Drive podcast, accessible here.
  • 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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