COVID-19 Bulletin: March 18

March 18, 2022 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

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  • Oil prices jumped 8% Thursday, extending a series of wild daily swings on renewed fears of supply shortages from Russia. In mid-day trading today, WTI futures were up 1.9% at $104.40/bbl, Brent was up 1.3% at $108.00/bbl and U.S. natural gas was down 2.4% at $4.87/MMBtu. 
  • More oil news related to the war in Europe:
    • European natural gas futures were trading around 105 euros per megawatt-hour today, almost 70% below a record-high of 345 euros last week. 
Natural Gas EU Dutch
  • A new Texas law prohibits state agencies from investing funds in financial companies that boycott energy firms. 
  • Exxon Mobil and BHP Group are investing a combined $291 million to increase gas output off southeast Australia. 
  • Petroleum and natural gas are expected to remain the U.S.’s largest sources of energy as consumption grows through 2050, the Energy Information Administration predicts:
Petroleum and natural gas are the most-used fuels in the United States through 2050

Supply Chain

  • The U.S. West is facing another spring and summer of dwindling water resources and rising temperatures, extending drought conditions that have covered over half the continental U.S. since the summer of 2020. 
  • In a rare break with its strict COVID-19 lockdown policies, China is allowing some companies in Shenzhen to restart factories shut down since last Sunday. 
  • The Port of Los Angeles handled a record 857,764 TEUs last month but expects volumes to soften this spring due to COVID lockdowns in China. 
  • The Port of Dover, Britain’s busiest maritime gateway, will see disruption after a regional ferry operator laid off more than 800 employees and suspended crossings for the next few days in a controversial cost cutting move. 
  • More than 40 Taiwan-based makers of semiconductors and other electronic components have said they are suspending work in Shenzhen and nearby Dongguan due to strict pandemic controls. 
  • Auto chip supplier Renesas is suspending production at three Japanese plants due to disruption caused by Wednesday’s 7.4-magnitude earthquake. 
  • Toyota cut its April production target by 150,000 vehicles, or 17%, due to continued semiconductor shortages. The automaker now exports vehicles made at its Burnaston plant in the U.K. to Europe by rail rather than truck, cutting lead times by 50%. 
  • Intel says it will invest $100 million in education in Ohio to develop skilled workers for a $20 billion chip plant it plans to build outside Columbus. 
  • The Cass Freight Index for expenditures rose to 4.453 in February, up 42.2% from the year before and 10.6% from January. 
  • Freight forwarder Flexport estimates it still takes more than 100 days to move a container from Asia to a U.S. destination through the West Coast, up from less than 50 days two years ago despite a recent cooling of U.S. port backlogs. 
  • U.S. trucking customers are consolidating more loads and switching modes to avoid surging fuel prices. 
  • Cargo theft in the U.S. and Canada fell 15% in 2021, new data shows.
  • J.B. Hunt plans to grow its intermodal container fleet 40% to 150,000 units over the next five years. 
  • Dollar General faces a cost squeeze after growing its private fleet, which is expected to comprise 40% of the tractors used to transport its goods from distribution centers to stores this year, up from 20% at the end of 2021. 
  • FedEx’s revenue rose 10% in the fiscal third quarter despite a decline in parcel volumes, with higher rates causing operating income to nearly triple. 
  • Nickel futures fell by 12% before hitting their daily trading limit for the third time in a row when the market opened today: 
  • The effects of months-long worker stoppages at Finnish paper mills are creating a growing shortage of shipping labels.   
  • DHL ordered five new B777 freighters to boost air cargo capacity out of Singapore. 
  • Key Apple supplier Foxconn has recruited over 100 Japanese companies to help it develop electric vehicles. 
  • Microsoft invested $34 million into a technology firm that promises to boost vessel efficiency with artificial intelligence.  
  • Wheat planting season in Minnesota and North Dakota will be delayed this spring due to flooding in the Red River Valley, bolstering fears of global food inflation. 
  • Shortages of Ukrainian agriculture exports are forcing the EU to revamp its farming policies

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 52,884 new COVID-19 infections and 1,685 virus fatalities Thursday. 
  • Top U.S. health officials are warning that the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Europe could soon spread to the U.S., especially as Congressional pandemic funding dries up and more programs are cut. 
  • Moderna is asking the FDA for emergency authorization of a second COVID-19 booster dose for all adults. 
  • A new state law in Connecticut will allow most employees to telecommute as many as four days a week
  • Most of last month’s rise in U.S. retail sales was due to higher prices, as unit sales of general goods declined in nine of the 10 weeks from Dec. 26 to March 5. 
  • U.S. factory output jumped 1.2% in February, the largest gain in four months. 
  • The typical U.S. home value rose over $52,667 last year, a figure slightly higher than the median U.S. full-time salary of $50,000, Zillow says. 
  • The average U.S. mortgage rate is above 4% for the first time since May 2019, according to Freddie Mac. 
  • New U.S. home construction rebounded 6.8% last month, its strongest pace since 2006. 
  • Delta Air Lines is raising wages 4% across-the-board as flight demand continues to rebound. 
  • Amazon closed its $8.5 billion acquisition of the MGM movie and television studio Thursday, even as the Federal Trade Commission continues to examine the deal. 

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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