Oil prices dipped Wednesday as the White House continued to indicate it may pull more from strategic U.S. crude reserves. Reserve withdrawals already topped a previous record at 1.6 million barrels in October.
Energy futures were higher in mid-day trading, with WTI up marginally at $81.42/bbl and Brent up 0.1% at $82.70/bbl. U.S. natural gas was 4% higher at $5.08/MMBtu.
U.S. consumers face their biggest surge in energy costs in 12 years, with electricity prices rising 6.5% year over year in September alongside steep increases in natural gas (+28%), fuel oil (+59%) and propane (+35%).
Russia boosted gas flows to Europe Wednesday, easing some of the bloc’s supply concerns and causing wholesale prices to drop ahead of the winter season. The nation’s oil and gas discoveries fell to the lowest in five years in the first half of 2021.
After unsuccessfully approaching OPEC producers to boost production, Japan is warning of the long-term economic effects of continued high oil prices on the nation’s pandemic recovery.
Offshore drilling contractors Noble Corporation and Maersk Drilling announced plans to merge into a combined modern fleet of 20 floaters and 19 jackup rigs.
The U.S. and China issued a surprise joint pledge Wednesday to combat the worst effects of climate change, announcing plans to curb methane use, halt illegal deforestation and other measures. Absent from the agreement was any mention of phasing out fossil fuel vehicles.
Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.
The White House unveiled a new supply chain dashboard that will be updated two times per month, detailing the status of delayed imported goods at ports throughout the U.S.
The U.S. president paid a visit to the Port of Baltimore Wednesday, highlighting planned improvements and upgrades as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill Congress recently passed. He is expected to sign the bill into law Monday. If passed, the legislation would grant $125 million in federal funding to vessel owners looking to divert ships from the U.S. West Coast to less-congested ports on the Gulf and East Coast.
The Georgia Ports Authority will spend $8 million to convert five inland facilities in Georgia and North Carolina into pop-up container yards to help ease congestion and alleviate supply chain disruption.
Several national and state trucking associations are suing the White House over its COVID-19 vaccination and testing rules for companies with over 100 employees.
GM has resumed production of Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks at its plant in Oshawa, Canada, after closing it in December 2019 to retool its assembly line.
Despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the U.S., Vermont’s COVID-19 cases have risen 55% the past two weeks, with daily cases hitting all-time highs above 400.
A public school in New York City’s Queens borough has closed its doors and will go fully remote for the next 10 days after 19 students and three staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
Less than 1% of New York City’s municipal workforce is on unpaid leave for not complying with its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, accounting for roughly 2,600 workers, down from 9,000 at the start of the month.
There were 267,000 first-time unemployment claims last week, a pandemic low.
The average employer health coverage cost for a family plan rose 4% in 2021 to $22,221, up from $21,342 in 2020.
The U.S. is facing a highway death “crisis,” with 2020 driving fatalities at the highest level since 2007 despite a decline in driving during lockdowns. The death rate is up 18.4% through the first six months of this year.
Roughly 25% of financial services firms expect to reduce their New York City workforces over the next five years amid a shift to lower-cost locations throughout the country.
Spending at U.S. discount stores is up 65% compared to the same period in 2019 and 21% from the week prior, as high inflation impacts consumer behavior.
Despite hourly earnings increasing 0.4% in October for American workers, top line inflation for the month rose 0.9%, bringing real wages down 0.5% for the period.
The median price for a single-family home rose 16% in the third quarter from a year ago to $363,700. Sales, meanwhile, are taking only one week on average to close, forcing buyers to bypass traditional home-buying safeguards.
Manhattan apartment rents surged 18% in October from a year earlier, the most on record.
Germany reported nearly 40,000 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, its third day of record infections the past week.
The U.K. reported 39,329 new COVID-19 infections yesterday, up from 33,117 the day before. The nation also recorded its first case of COVID-19 in a pet dog.
France is seeing the beginning of a fifth COVID-19 wave, with the nation reporting 11,833 new infections Wednesday, its second consecutive day above 10,000 and a roughly 40% rise from a week earlier.
Russia reported over 40,000 COVID-19 cases and 1,237 deaths Thursday, both records, only two days after parts of the country reopened from a week-long workplace shutdown. Roughly 83% of the country’s virus hospital beds were filled as of Wednesday.
Slovakia saw a record-high 7,055 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, while the Czech Republic reported 14,539 cases, nearing a record.
Italy expanded authorization for COVID-19 booster shots in a bid to get ahead of an expected fourth virus wave this winter.
Following the U.S., Israel approved giving children aged 5 to 11 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The nation began a series of “war games” to test its readiness for a potential new, more lethal virus strain.
China placed 9,000 tourists visiting the Gobi Desert into quarantine after a COVID-19 case was detected in a nearby city. The northern Chinese city of Shenyang is requiring overseas visitors to quarantine in a hotel for 28 days and then avoid leaving their residences for an additional 28 days, part of the country’s strict “zero COVID” strategy.
China shut down businesses that handle imported food in the port city of Dalian after a local COVID-19 outbreak.
India is calling for $1 trillion in global investment by the end of the decade to finance its recent pledge of net-zero emissions by 2070.
At M. Holland
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