COVID-19 Bulletin: February 1

February 1, 2022 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

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  • Oil prices rose about 1% Monday, with WTI ending January 17% higher for its strongest month in a year: 
Crude Oil
  • Energy futures were lower in late morning trading today, with WTI down 0.2% at $87.98/bbl and Brent down 0.1% at $89.19/bbl. U.S. natural gas was 3.4% lower at $4.71/MMBtu.
  • The OPEC+ consortium has again failed to meet its own production targets in January as the group lifted output by only 210,000 bpd for the month, about half of a planned 400,000-bpd increase.
  • Exxon Mobil announced a major reorganization that will create three distinct business lines by this April – an oil-and-gas production unit, a chemicals-and-refining unit and a low-carbon unit. The company also will move its corporate headquarters from Irving, Texas, to Houston. 
  • Natural gas storage in the lower 48 U.S. states surpassed its five-year average in mid-December during one of the warmest Decembers on record, before declining again amid colder temperatures, higher LNG exports and increased power demand in January:
U.S. natural gas inventories near five-year average after mild December, cold January
Annual upstream M&A deal value by continent
  • The U.S. EPA is moving to restore tighter regulations on mercury and lead use at power plants, citing environmental and public health concerns. 
  • China plans to launch a unified power market by 2025 to ensure grid flexibility and avoid a repeat of last fall’s energy crisis, authorities said. More than 4% of the world’s population was hit with power outages last year as regions with previously reliable supplies, including in China, suffered blackouts and rationing.
  • The global market for carbon permits ballooned to a record $851 billion in 2021, a 164% increase from 2020. 

Supply Chain

  • A severe winter storm will target a 2,000-mile swath of the U.S. from the Rockies to the Northeast today through Friday, blanketing major metro areas with snow, ice and rain. 
  • What started as a protest by Canadian truckers over cross-border vaccine mandates has turned into a blockade in the Canadian capital of Ottawa and widespread gridlock at the U.S.-Canada border crossing. Canadian authorities denied any interruption to cross-border freight travel. 
  • Chemical shippers told U.S. regulators they are seeing weeks-long delays in transit times and deteriorating railroad service caused by crew shortages from the tight labor market and COVID-19 call offs. 
  • China saw its sharpest contraction in industrial output since the beginning of the pandemic from December to January, as strict lockdowns continue to dent the nation’s factory activity. Most shippers expect even more shutdowns during the Lunar New Year holiday that starts today, adding to global supply shortages. 
  • Loaded container imports into Georgia’s Port of Savannah rose 6.1% in December to a record 5.6 million units, up 21.3% for the full year. The Port is now the third busiest in the U.S., topped only by the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach (20 million container imports in 2021) and the Port of New York/New Jersey (9 million container imports in 2021). 
  • China’s Cosco Shipping Holdings, the flagship of the second largest shipping company in the world, posted weaker-than-expected earnings as container volumes fell sharply in the fourth quarter. 
  • Chinese companies ramped up overseas investment in consumer product and electric vehicle supply chains last year, particularly in Latin America, new data show. 
  • Panasonic will start making electric vehicle batteries for Tesla in Japan after struggling for years to bring a U.S. plant online due to labor and startup costs.
  • Paccar’s heavy-duty truck deliveries expanded 45% for the second straight quarter as supply chain movement improved. 
  • Union Pacific will spend $100 million to purchase 20 battery-electric locomotives and upgrade electric infrastructure, the largest electric investment to date by a U.S. Class I railroad.
  • Boeing inked a $34+ billion deal with Qatar Airways to deliver up to 50 new freight versions of its 777X passenger jet.
  • CMA CGM is delving further into last-mile services with the acquisition of French delivery firm Colis Prive
  • Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping has banned coal from its commercially managed bulk carriers to help reduce global emissions. 
  • U.S. logistics providers will have until Feb. 28 to submit comments to the FTC on supply chain issues. 
  • American farmers reaped 37% less soft white winter wheat this season due to excessively hot and dry conditions in the Pacific Northwest, leading to shortages of the key ingredient for bread products in some nations.

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 608,201 new COVID-19 infections and 2,422 virus fatalities Monday.
  • The seven-day average of U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations fell below 144,000 for the first time in three weeks, bolstering hopes of a peak in the Omicron wave.
  • Mississippi hospitals have begun limiting capacity due to a shortage of nurses. 
  • For the fourth time of the pandemic, Idaho mobilized national guard troops to support short-staffed healthcare facilities and prisons. 
  • COVID-19 cases among Texas students and school staff more than doubled their previous record set last week. 
  • COVID-19 cases in New York state are down 90% since a Jan. 7 peak. Many Wall Street bank employees are set to return to office buildings as the Omicron wave tapers. 
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in Illinois fell 25% over the past week.
  • Maryland is seeing a sharp decline in new COVID-19 cases and total virus hospitalizations. 
  • The FDA upgraded Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine from emergency-use authorization to full approval yesterday. 
  • Over 60 million American households have requested free COVID-19 tests under the federal government’s new rollout that began less than two weeks ago. 
  • U.S. educators resigned from their jobs at a faster clip than workers in any other industry last year, recruited to new careers in the private sector. 
  • Roughly 1 million more Americans than normal died during the pandemic, pointing to a higher pandemic fatality count than official numbers suggest.
  • As of December, only six states had reached pre-pandemic levels of employment: 
Only Six States Have Recovered All Jobs Lost to COVID-19
  • Job search site Indeed said there were 1 million fewer postings in the third week of January than a month ago, pointing to early signs of a pullback in record job openings.
  • More than one-third of available single-family homes in December were newly constructed, double the historical average amid record scarcity in the U.S. housing market. 
  • An outlier in the hospitality industry, extended stay hotels are continuing to profit from people who need temporary residences during the pandemic, with no signs of demand slowing down even as travel picks up and restrictions are mostly gone. 
  • The Dallas Federal Reserve’s index of factory activity in Texas fell 6 points in January, the smallest growth in the state’s factory activity since July of 2020:
United States Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index
  • The average rent for retail space in Manhattan fell an annual 14% in the fourth quarter as foot traffic in major shopping areas continues to lag from pre-pandemic levels. 
  • Mortgage rates will continue to rise as the Federal Reserve begins shrinking its massive $2.7 trillion stockpile of mortgage securities built up to avert a housing crisis during the pandemic: 
Assets: Securities Held Outright: Mortgage-Backed Securities: Wednesday Level
  • Investors pulled $1.4 billion from municipal bond funds in the week ended last Wednesday, the biggest weekly outflow since the start of the pandemic as the prospect of rising interest rates makes outstanding debt less attractive.
  • Rising N95 mask sales helped deliver higher-than-expected revenue in 3M’s most recent quarter. 

International Markets

  • The total number of COVID-19 cases linked to the Beijing Olympics is up to 248exceeding the number of infections linked to Japan’s Olympic Games last summer. Three American athletes have tested positive so far. 
  • Hong Kong reported 129 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, a record, as the pragmatism of the island’s zero-COVID policy falters
  • The CDC added 12 nations to its “Level 4: High Risk” travel warning yesterday, including Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, French Guiana, Anguilla, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Kosovo, Moldova, Singapore and the Philippines. Nearly 130 countries now carry the agency’s highest risk rating. 
  • British officials may scrap a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers due to severe labor shortages at hospitals. 
  • New COVID-19 cases in Turkey are up 500% the past month. 
  • Austria ended its lockdown for unvaccinated people Monday despite record nationwide COVID-19 cases, with authorities citing the reduced strain on hospitals from the weaker Omicron variant. 
  • Scientists across the world say there is no indication that the BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19, which was first identified in early December and has since spread to 49 countries, causes more severe disease or is more infectious than the original Omicron strain.  
  • Despite record-high case numbers, the U.K. and other governments across Europe responded to Omicron with lighter restrictions than any previous wave of the virus, leading to significantly less impact on the region’s fourth-quarter economic growth. 
  • Mexico and Brazil, Latin America’s two largest economies, are back in recession territory following stubborn GDP declines caused by supply chain issues, local rate hikes, policy uncertainties and structural problems.
Stalled Out: Quarter-on-quarter growth in the real GDP

At M. Holland

  • Our Healthcare team has published a revised Medical Resin Selection Booklet containing additional resins, new focus grades and new 3D printing resins.
  • M. Holland’s 3D Printing group offers a rapid response alternative for producing selected parts where resin availability is tight. 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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