COVID-19 Bulletin: March 17

March 17, 2022 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

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  • Oil prices fell over 1.5% Wednesday on a surprise build in U.S. crude inventories last week and possible progress in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. In mid-morning trading today, WTI futures were up 7.8% at $102.50/bbl, Brent was up 8.4% at $106.30/bbl and U.S. natural gas was up 4.6% at $4.97/MMBtu. 
  • The U.S. government expects Brent crude to average $116/bbl and WTI to average $112/bbl in the second quarter before declining. 
EIA expects crude oil prices higher than $100 per barrel in coming months
  • More oil news related to the war in Europe:
  • The U.S. oil and gas rig count rose by 13 to 663 last week, the highest since April 2020 and the ninth gain in the last 10 weeks. 
  • The average U.S. gasoline price fell by one cent to $4.32 per gallon Tuesday. 
  • DoorDash broke with the fuel-surcharge strategy of Uber and Lyft and will start a new gas rewards program for drivers to offset rising prices at the pump to avoid raising costs for customers. 
  • Jet fuel prices are at their highest levels in almost 15 years
  • Portugal will hold its first auction for offshore windfarms this summer with the goal of producing up to 4 GW of electricity from new projects by 2026.

Supply Chain

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 45,014 new COVID-19 infections and 1,943 virus fatalities Wednesday. 
  • Newly admitted COVID-19 hospital patients are nearing their lowest recorded level after any prior surge, with the seven-day average sliding to 6,406 Wednesday, down from a peak above 28,000 in January. 
  • U.S. hospitalizations of young children rose fivefold during the Omicron surge of COVID-19, new data shows. 
  • One of the two 9/11 museums in Manhattan will permanently close after an 83% decline in attendance during the pandemic. 
  • The White House will announce new ventilation standards for buildings today as part of its fight against COVID-19.  
  • First-time unemployment claims fell by 15,000 last week to 214,000, a two-and-a-half month low. 
  • The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point to a range between 0.25% and 0.5% yesterday, the first time in four years, with at least six more rate hikes planned for this year. The central bank also signaled it would begin to shrink its $9 trillion asset portfolio built up during the pandemic as soon as its next meeting in May.  
United States Fed Funds Rate
  • Federal Reserve officials see core U.S. inflation hitting 4.1% this year, higher than market expectations of 3.5%. 
  • U.S. retail sales rose 0.3% in February from the previous month, led by higher spending at gas stations and bars and restaurants. Although slower than January’s 4.9% pace, the number is a promising sign that American consumers are still willing to absorb higher prices. 
  • The average U.S. 30-year mortgage rate jumped to 4.27% from 4.09% last week, while applications to purchase a home fell 8% from the year-ago period. 
  • More than 90% of employers are planning to adopt a hybrid work model this year, according to tech consulting firm Gartner, while a smaller number will insist on a full return to the office. 
  • Walmart is seeking around 50,000 new hires in the U.S. by the end of April, during a time of year when many retailers pull back on hiring following the holiday shopping season. 
  • The used-car market is booming amid supply chain problems for new vehicles, with used-car prices up 41% in February from the same time last year compared to a 12% rise for new cars. 
  • Corporate venture funds invested $23.2 billion in climate-technology businesses including renewables and energy storage last year, more than double the amount from 2020. 

International Markets

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.

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