January 17, 2022 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

COVID-19 Bulletin: January 17

More news relevant to the plastics industry:

Some sources linked are subscription services.


  • Oil prices rose Friday, notching a fourth straight week of gains to two-and-a-half-month highs and Brent trading at its highest since 2014. Crude futures were higher in late morning trading, with WTI up 0.3% at $84.10/bbl and Brent up 0.3% at $86.33/bbl. U.S. natural gas was marginally higher at $4.26/MMBtu. 
  • Crude futures were mixed in morning trading, with WTI up .2% at $83.97/bbl and Brent down .1% at $85.97/bbl. U.S. natural gas was .2% higher at $4.27/MMBtu. 
  • Active U.S. oil and gas rigs rose by 13 last week to 601, while production hit 11.7 million bpd, up from 11 million bpd the same time last year. 
  • Trade in oil futures is picking up rapidly to start 2022 from December lows. 
  • The U.S. government expects natural gas prices to remain relatively flat around $4/MMBtu throughout 2022: 
EIA forecasts natural gas prices to remain near $4/MMBtu in 2022, slightly lower in 2023
  • China is expected to release an unspecified amount of crude from strategic reserves on Feb. 1 as global benchmarks tick above $85/bbl. The nation’s crude imports fell 5.4% last year, the first decline in two decades. 
  • Europe’s ongoing energy shortage could steal 1% of the continent’s GDP this year, analysts warn.
  • European imports of U.S. natural gas are five times higher than Russian deliveries this month, the first time in history that American LNG has surpassed Russian pipeline flows to the continent. 
  • The U.S. Senate rejected new sanctions against Russia’s completed—but not yet flowing—Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany, saying the measure would harm relations with Germany. 
  • Germany is expected to become a net importer of electricity by 2023 for the first time in two decades, underscoring the impact of recent phase-outs of coal and nuclear plants. 
  • France’s largest utility is expected to lose almost $9 billion after the government’s recent order to discount power to tamp down rising costs among households. 

Supply Chain

  • A major winter storm struck the U.S. Southeast over the weekend, working its way up the East Coast Sunday while leaving more than a foot of snow and a quarter inch of ice in some areas. Widespread air and road disruptions were reported, along with power outages for more than 200,000 homes and businesses in the Carolinas and Georgia. Airlines canceled at least 2,800 flights Sunday.  
  • Dry bulk rates ended last week at their lowest levels since March 2021
  • Some trucking and air cargo links between China and Europe are being threatened by rising political turmoil in Kazakhstan. 
  • Idled and delayed containers have been the target of rising theft incidents near main U.S. ports, notably in Southern California. 
  • Union Pacific Railroad has threatened to cease operating in Los Angeles County due to rampant cargo theft after experiencing a 160% year-over-year increase, which it blames on lax law enforcement.  
  • Amtrak is suspending about 8% of its Northeast Regional weekly schedule through March due to COVID-19-related staffing shortages.
  • Air freight demand is expected to grow this year despite overall capacity being down 7% from pre-pandemic levels, according to freight forwarder Flexport. 
  • British road freight prices reached a two-year high last month. 
  • North American heavy-duty truck orders totaled 365,000 units last year, a number unreflective of true demand as production backlogs stretched manufacturers thin. 
  • Paccar’s Kenworth Trucks unit reported a tripling of orders for its heavy- and medium-duty battery electric trucks over the past three months.  
  • A benchmark lithium price in China rose over 500% last year, pushing electric vehicle (EV) battery prices higher for the first time and threatening the EV boom. 
  • Investors directed a record $24 billion into North American and European supply chain firms through the third quarter of last year, pushing up valuations for startups.
  • More than 8,000 Colorado Kroger employees went on strike Friday over pay and benefits.  
  • U.S. homebuilder KB Home overcame supply chain disruptions for a 64% rise in quarterly earnings from the previous year, as demand for new home construction surges. 
  • The parent company of third-party food deliverer Grubhub lost almost half of its market value last year on stiffer competition from large U.S. rivals.
  • Starbucks plans to spend $1.5 billion with diverse suppliers by the end of the decade. 
  • The FAA will allow more planes to fly within new 5G network zones, reducing the risk of schedule disruptions for most U.S. carriers. 
  • FedEx requested FAA approval to equip cargo planes with anti-missile systems for protection in hostile regions.  

M. Holland’s 2022 Plastics Industry Trends & Predictions

M. Holland’s market experts weigh in on what we can expect for the plastics industry in 2022. View the infographic and read more on current trends and predictions.

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 254,550 new COVID-19 infections and 545 virus fatalities Sunday. The nation has seen a large increase in the number of COVID-19-related deaths over the past month, with total virus fatalities surpassing 850,000 over the weekend, just one month after surpassing 800,000. 
  • The seven-day average for COVID-19 hospitalizations hit 155,958 Sunday, the most ever, with the largest rise concentrated in the South and Midwest: 
U.S. Hospitals Fill Up in Omicron Surge

International Markets

AstraZeneca, the People's Vaccine?

At M. Holland

  • 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.

Stay informed with industry trends and insights.