December 13, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

COVID-19 Bulletin: December 13

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  • Oil prices had their biggest gain since August last week, up 8% for the week. Crude futures were lower in late morning trading, with WTI down 0.3% at $71.47/bbl and Brent off 0.4% at $74.69/bbl. U.S. natural gas was 1.0% higher at $3.96/MMBtu. 
  • U.S. natural gas prices, which have fallen 40% since mid-October, could reverse if meteorologist predictions of a pending polar vortex are realized in coming weeks.  
  • Mexico’s Pemex plans to reduce its oil exports next year in favor of supplying demand at home, a move that could hit South Korean and Indian refiners particularly hard. 
  • Plans to develop the Cambo oil field in the U.K.’s North Sea have been scrapped following Shell’s departure from the project last week. 
  • Saudi Arabia is expected to supply full contracted oil volumes to most of its Asian buyers for the fourth consecutive month in January, a signal that crude supply is sufficient for the time being. Higher oil prices and production volumes will lead the nation to its first budget surplus in eight years
  • Shareholders of Royal Dutch Shell voted overwhelmingly to drop “Royal Dutch” from the firm’s name, end its dual share structure and relocate headquarters from the Netherlands to London sometime in 2022. 
  • Strong demand growth in Norway will push the nation to the brink of a power deficit for the first time in 2026, forecasts suggest. 
  • Belarusian oil company Belorusneft canceled its 2022 export plans to Germany via the 450,000-barrel-per-quarter Druzhba pipeline in response to tighter European sanctions. 
  • Exxon Mobil and Qatar Energy inked a new energy exploration and production deal in Cyprus’ southeastern Block 5. 
  • China’s state-owned Sinopec is setting up a new subsidiary near Beijing that will focus on building hydrogen refueling, storage and pipeline infrastructure
  • With significant exemptions, a new White House order has barred all government funding for overseas coal and carbon-intensive project development. 

Supply Chain

  • A 250-mile wave of tornadoes caused devastation in six states over the weekend. More than 100 people lost their lives, while cleanup efforts in leveled towns are expected to take weeks. 
  • The Port of Long Beach handled 8.6 million shipping units through November, already smashing its yearly record with a month to go. There has been a 37% drop since Nov. 1 in containers sitting for nine days or more at terminals, a result of threatened hefty fees. 
  • Major U.S. ports likely imported 2.21 million TEUs in November, 5.1% higher than the same time last year. 
  • U.S. retailers are predicting there won’t be a traditional post-holiday slack period, and that container imports will remain strong into the second quarter of 2022. 
  • Empty container exports from the nine largest U.S. ports rose 46.2% through November compared to the same time last year. 
  • U.S. truck shipments managed by freight brokers rose 6.8% in the latest quarter for a 10.6% annual gain. 
  • Container shipping lines dropped nearly 25% of north European port calls in the past five months due to congestion. 
  • Roughly 79% of Costco’s imports are late by an average of 51 days, executives said, with some toy and holiday season items likely not arriving until after Christmas. 
  • Beverages are out of stock at higher rates than most other grocery items, largely a result of bottle and can shortages
  • Toyota will partially suspend operations at two more Japanese plants due to delays in procuring parts from Southeast Asia. 
  • A Chinese auto industry group cited improved semiconductor supplies in helping passenger car production grow 14% month over month in November. 
  • The U.S. Transportation Department awarded $12.6 million to nine marine highway projects in a bid to enhance the movement of goods in New York, New Jersey, Texas and other states. 
  • Texas-based trucker Central Freight, a large operator in the less-than-truckload business, will be the largest trucking company to shut down since 2019 after suffering years of losses. 
  • Shipbroker Braemar ACM saw profits rise to the highest level in 13 years on surging demand for commodities. The firm noted that capesize vessels saw the biggest fleet growth this year, while coal accounted for 43% of demand growth in the Panamax market. 
  • Tyson Foods announced plans to spend over $1.3 billion the next three years to boost automation at its meat plants to help counter the national labor shortage. 
  • Kellogg announced plans to hire replacements for 1,400 striking workers after contract negotiations failed last week. 
  • With more companies making remote work permanent, real estate developers are increasingly looking to former office spaces as prime locations for warehouse and logistics sites
  • Germany’s Hellmann Worldwide Logistics was forced to shut down its central data center late last week following a cyberattack. Operations remained disrupted over the weekend. 
  • A cyberattack on the largest U.S. cheese producer was behind the recent shortage of cream cheese wreaking havoc on bagel shops and bakeries. 
  • Volvo reported losing valuable R&D data following a cyberattack last week that could impact operations. 

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 36,818 new COVID-19 infections and 167 virus fatalities Sunday. Total fatalities since the start of the pandemic surpassed 800,000
  • U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations rose 23% the past two weeks to a daily average of 65,277 as of Saturday. New cases rose by 40% for a daily average of 119,325 within the same time frame, likely the result of in-person Thanksgiving gatherings
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in Michigan rose 88% the past month.
  • Arizona has recorded more than 3,000 new COVID-19 infections for 12 consecutive days. 
  • Ohio reported its first cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. 
  • Thirty percent of COVID-19 patients in Massachusetts’ largest hospital network last week were vaccinated. 
  • New York’s governor imposed a mask mandate for all indoor businesses that don’t have COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
  • As many as 1.3 million Americans are suffering long-term COVID-19 symptoms that prevent their reentry to the workforce, medical specialists say. 
  • U.S. officials have indicated they will not require a third booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for a person to be considered fully vaccinated. 
  • After a judge temporarily blocked the administration’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, several major hospital systems waived the requirement as they face serious worker shortages.  
  • Protection from mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in older adults begins to wane after about four months, a new CDC study suggests. 
  • COVID-19 vaccine uptake among teenagers has nearly ground to a halt in recent weeks, the latest survey results show, while demand remains even lower for parents of younger children aged 5 to 11. 
  • No safety problems have been reported in children between ages 5 and 11 who get vaccinated against COVID-19, the CDC said. 
  • The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal mask mandate for U.S. air travel. 
  • More companies are pushing back return-to-office plans again amid rising COVID-19 cases and the threat of the Omicron variant. 
  • U.S. wholesale inventories rose 2.3% in October from the previous month and 14.4% from the year-ago period, new data shows. 
  • Low-cost U.S. exchange-traded funds have seen historic influxes of cash this year, a result of rising stock markets and the lack of high-yield alternatives. 
  • S&P 500 companies repurchased a record $234.5 billion in shares during the third quarter, a major driver behind continued stock market gains. 
  • Recent data suggests the Federal Reserve’s reluctance to tighten economic policy could have bolstered stimulus effects on the U.S. economy, pushing real interest rates to their lowest levels in four decades. 
  • GM is finalizing plans to spend $3 billion on two Michigan electric vehicle projects, including converting a Detroit factory to produce electric trucks and building a battery-cell factory with LG. 
  • GM plans to begin production of an electric version of its Chevy Silverado pickup truck in early 2023.  
  • Ford pushed out the introduction of electric Explorer and Aviator models until 2025 and plans to triple production of its Mustang Mach-E by 2023.  

International Markets

At M. Holland

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