COVID-19 Bulletin: December 2

December 2, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

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  • Oil prices fell less than a percent Wednesday after the first U.S. case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant was reported. Crude futures were higher in late morning trading, with WTI up 1.8% at $66.76/bbl and Brent up 1.7% at $70.07/bbl. U.S. natural gas was 0.2% lower at $4.26/MMBtu. 
  • OPEC will decide later today on output plans for January. Traders predict a weakened outlook for jet fuel demand, which has recently soared, could influence the cartel to curtail monthly increases
  • U.S. oil production hit a 2021 high for the week ended Nov. 26, while demand dropped 7% from the previous week. Domestic crude and gasoline stockpiles remain 5%-6% lower than five-year averages for this time of year.  
  • EU delegates will gather today to debate responses to continued high prices for energy, as fear spreads that unusually low inventories will cause a winter supply crisis. Germany and eight other European nations are resisting calls for an overhaul of the bloc’s electricity market, while the head of the International Energy Agency blamed price hikes on producer policies. 
  • Italy is planning to budget $2.27 billion for domestic energy subsidies next year, adding to the $4.5 billion already doled out this year. 
  • Canada’s energy regulator rejected Enbridge’s attempt to enter long-term contracts for all the capacity of its 3-million-bpd Mainline pipeline. 
  • Saudi Aramco started work on the country’s largest non-oil gas field this week, with development costs projected at $24 billion
  • Indonesia is opening bidding on eight new oil and gas blocks, the nation’s second offering since the start of the pandemic. 
  • The UAE’s state-owned oil firm announced $127 billion in capital spending over the next five years, including investments in low-carbon fuel businesses.
  • The EU is proposing a new system for certifying carbon removals from the air, part of a long-term strategy to incentivize carbon storage development. 
  • The world will need to double annual renewable additions over the next five years to have a chance at reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, researchers say. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.

Supply Chain

  • The backlog of ships anchoring outside the Port of Vancouver climbed to 56 Wednesday, including 20 grain, 13 coal and eight container ships. The second of British Columbia’s two critical rail lines is set to reopen this weekend
  • California hospitals are seeing shortages of critical medical supplies due to continued port congestion. 
  • Dry bulk commodity prices have surpassed a 2008 peak, new data shows.
  • Small U.S. businesses are tying up more cash in securing inventories months ahead of schedule and sourcing more materials from domestic producers to get around supply chain logjams. 
  • Furniture makers are still facing delayed orders and depleted inventories as Vietnamese factories work to ramp up production following months of COVID-19 lockdowns. 
  • British supermarket chain Asda is the latest retailer to charter its own vessel to ensure delivery of goods ahead of Christmas. 
  • Global port operator PSA International will start offering end-to-end logistics services with the acquisition of Philadelphia-based freight manager BDP International.  
  • Two of the planned 21 berths under construction at a Singaporean mega-port will open by the end of 2022, officials say. 
  • Citing improving semiconductor availability, GM raised its guidance for the remainder of the year and expects to get back to full production in 2022. GM also announced a joint venture with South Korea’s Posco Chemical to build a North American plant to process chemicals for electric vehicle batteries.  
  • Every U.S. auto brand has posted declining deliveries in November so far, with Subaru’s volume down the most at 35%, its sixth straight month of declines.  
  • Production losses due to the global semiconductor shortage cost Volvo $242.7 million in the third quarter. 
  • Apple is reportedly telling vendors that demand for the company’s flagship iPhone 13 has slowed heading into the holiday season, perhaps due to consumer frustration over tight supplies caused by the semiconductor shortage. 
  • South Korea’s SK Hynix, the world’s second biggest chipmaker after Samsung, may hold off on plans to send advanced equipment to Chinese manufacturing sites over opposition from the U.S. 
  • According to a Transportation Intermediaries Association survey, 3PL shippers experienced a 6.8% increase in shipments in the third quarter compared with the second and a 10.3% increase in revenues. 
  • Amazon is projected to surpass UPS and FedEx in U.S. package delivery volume by early next year. 
  • More than half of third-quarter industrial leasing in the U.S. was for last-mile facilities smaller than 100,000 square feet. 
  • Parts and labor shortages are driving down production of freight trailers, with lead times stretching eight months or longer
  • 7-Eleven will begin autonomous vehicle (AV) deliveries in Mountain View, California, the state’s first AV delivery service. 
  • For a partial list of automotive disruptions caused by semiconductor and component shortages, click here.

Domestic Markets

Have Shopping Holidays Jumped the Shark?
  • The number of Americans living alone increased by 4 million to 37 million the past decade, accounting for a record 28% of households. 
  • U.S. manufacturing activity picked up in November, with the Institute for Supply Management’s index rising to 61.1 from 60.8 in October.  

International Markets

  • COVID-19 cases in South Africa, the epicenter of the Omicron variant, nearly doubled the past 24 hours to 8,561
  • Current vaccines will likely protect against the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the World Health Organization said. New research from Israel indicates those who received booster shots also have protection against Omicron. 
  • South KoreaNorway and Nigeria reported their first cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant Wednesday.
  • Global COVID-19 infections increased by one-third in November from October to 4 million per week. Absent government policies, British businesses are taking the initiative to tighten COVID-19 restrictions over fears of rising infections. 
  • Germany’s fourth wave of COVID-19 is expected to peak in the middle of December, with 6,000 ICU beds potentially occupied by Christmas. National and regional leaders are meeting today to formulate an emergency response plan
  • France tightened travel restrictions, requiring all visitors from outside the EU to test negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours of entering the country.  
  • European officials are asking for daily reviews of travel policies and speedier COVID-19 booster rollouts as cases of the Omicron variant spread. 
  • Austria extended Europe’s strictest COVID-19 lockdown an extra 10 days to Dec. 12
  • Denmark reported a record 5,120 COVID-19 infections Wednesday. 
  • Poland reported 526 COVID-19 fatalities Wednesday, the most since April. 
  • Seven Mediterranean countries have yet to vaccinate 10% of their populations against COVID-19. 
  • Japanese airlines resumed booking international flights into the country Thursday after the nation rescinded its call to halt the process for the remainder of the year over fears of importing the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
  • China reported 91 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, its worst daily outbreak since the start of the pandemic. 
  • The international COVAX vaccine-sharing program delivered over 11 million doses to low-income nations the past 24 hours, its busiest day on record. 
  • The EU quickened its rollout of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as age 5, with initial shots planned for Dec. 13.  
  • Italian regulators approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as age 5
  • The U.K.’s GlaxoSmithKline said its COVID-19 antiviral treatment was effective against the Omicron variant
  • A new global organization will meet early next year in the hopes of creating a legally binding treaty for future pandemic prevention. 
  • Europe’s manufacturing activity grew slightly while Canada’s dropped slightly in November. 
  • British home prices rose 0.9% from October to November, up 10% from the same time last year. 
  • British retailers increased prices by 0.3% in November, the first annual increase in over two years. 
  • South Korean inflation reached a higher-than-expected 3.4% in November from a year ago. 
  • Japan’s industrial output rose in October for the first time in four months, led by an increase in auto manufacturing. 
  • Global tourism losses are set to reach $1.6 trillion in 2021 compared to $2 trillion last year. 
  • A recent survey suggested almost half of major international banks and asset managers are contemplating moving some operations out of Hong Kong due to the island’s “Covid Zero” policy. 
  • Tel Aviv, Israel, is the most expensive city in the world, topping Paris and Singapore, which are tied for second. 
  • A monetary crisis is growing in Turkey, where the currency has collapsed more than 25% the past two weeks and 45% on the year: 
Turkish Lira Falls Off Yet Another Cliff

At M. Holland

  • 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.

For all COVID-19 updates and notices, please refer to the M. Holland website.

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