COVID-19 Bulletin: October 1

October 1, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

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  • Oil prices remained mostly flat Thursday, with higher-than-expected U.S. inventories offset by news that China is looking to purchase more oil and other energy supplies. 
  • Crude futures were lower in morning trading on news that OPEC+ producers might step up a planned increase in output to ease global supply concerns. WTI was down 0.5% at $74.67/bbl and Brent was down 0.2% at $78.12/bbl. Natural gas was 3.6% lower at $5.66/MMBtu.
  • OPEC’s oil output rose to 27.31 million bpd in September, the highest level since April 2020, as the cartel’s top producers continue to ease pandemic-induced supply curbs. 
  • France announced that it will block further natural gas price hikes and halt a planned February increase in electricity tariffs in a bid to ease the rising costs of electricity for consumers. 
  • China’s energy crisis is posing increased risks to China’s softening manufacturing sector as the government orders companies in the industrial heartland to limit their power consumption.  
  • Saudi Arabia raised government revenue expectations by 4.5% as an increase in oil prices helps the nation recover from the pandemic. 
  • Spot LNG prices in Asia soared to a record-high $34.47/MMBtu Thursday, breaking a previous record set in January, as forecasters predict a colder winter will continue to boost demand. 
  • More than 25% of fuel pumps in the U.K. remain dry, causing national traffic volumes to drop to their lowest level since pandemic lockdowns were in place earlier this year. Analysts predict it could take weeks for stations to refill.
  • Renewable energy firm Aemetis inked a 10-year deal with Delta Air Lines to supply the carrier with sustainable aviation fuel, as the industry continues to face pressure to lower its carbon footprint. 
  • Norway will close its last coal mine located in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago in 2023. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.

Supply Chain

  • Hurricane Sam is expected to remain a Category 4 storm as it churns through the Atlantic Ocean this weekend, moving past eastern Bermuda Sunday. 
  • Tropical Storm Victor gained strength southwest of Africa’s Cabo Verde Islands, with forecasters expecting it to form into a hurricane later today. 
  • Firefighters in California will remain on high alert over the next several weeks despite continued progress made against the state’s largest wildfires, including 94% containment of the Dixie Fire and 76% containment of the Caldor Fire. 
  • Congress agreed on a nine-week spending bill to keep the federal government open through Dec. 3, avoiding a partial shutdown. A vote on a proposed $550 billion infrastructure bill was pushed back from last night to later today, following hours of negotiation without agreement. 
  • Hapag-Lloyd expects port congestion and high spot freight rates to continue into the first quarter of 2022
  • International air cargo volumes grew 8.6% in August compared to pre-pandemic levels, while the pace of growth tapered to 7.7% compared to 8.8% in July. 
  • Chinese shipper Cosco will raise its stake in Greece’s Port of Piraeus by 16% to 67%, boosting its ability to make investments and modifications over the next five years. 
  • Major car companies are expected to report declining third-quarter U.S. sales Friday, the first fall this year. 
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working on a project to expand the Port of Corpus Christi ship channel to allow more than one vessel to pass through at a time.  
  • Lumber prices are on the rise again, with futures up 40% since August. 
  • Costco and Sam’s Club are reinstating purchasing limits on certain paper products due to a shortage of wood pulp among suppliers. 
  • AutoZone will add 20 mega hubs to its distribution network over the next year following the success of its inventory replenishment model, which can fulfill orders for nearby stores and customers within 24 hours.
  • Solar manufacturers warn that rising material costs and weakened supply chains will lead to panel shortages, with some firms asking customers to delay purchases and slow installations
  • U.S. beef exports to China are up ninefold from a year ago, a result of diplomatic tensions between China and Australia, its major beef supplier.  
  • For a partial list of automotive disruptions caused by semiconductor and component shortages, click here.

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 110,594 new COVID-19 infections and 2,728 virus fatalities Thursday. The nation is about to surpass 700,000 virus deaths, half of them suffered so far this year. 
  • The White House emphasized its support for COVID-19 boosters, calling a three-shot regimen “optimal” despite the shots not having been broadly approved yet. 
  • The CDC predicts the rate of U.S. COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations will decrease over the next four weeks
  • Rural Americans are dying from COVID-19 at twice the rate of those living in urban areas, new research shows. 
  • Idaho’s recent COVID-19 infection surge is having a greater effect on both infants and pregnant women, with doctors reporting an increase in maternal deaths, stillbirths and neonatal ICU patients. 
  • With only 41% of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Wyoming’s hospitals are filling up with virus patients, prompting cancellations of elective procedures. 
  • Despite 69% of its population being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Maine’s seven-day average of new infections surpassed 520 Thursday, up from below 20 infections per day in mid-July.  
  • Total COVID-19 hospitalizations in Virginia are beginning to decrease below 2,000. 
  • Just three weeks after school began, nearly 1,000 New Jersey students in a single district have been forced to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure. 
  • Schools across the country are scrambling to keep students fed as supply chain disruptions and labor shortages affect the food industry.  
  • An organization representing school boards across the U.S. is requesting emergency assistance from the federal government to help manage an influx of threats over COVID-19 safety protocols. 
  • The U.S. Justice Department sided with Texas children with disabilities who are suing to overturn the governor’s ban on mask mandates in public schools. 
  • Americans with a disability are more likely to want a COVID-19 vaccine but have a harder time getting one compared to other people, new CDC data shows. 
  • Following a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, most California health care employers are reporting staff vaccination rates above 90%
  • More than 90% of Tyson Foods’ 120,000-person U.S. workforce has been vaccinated against COVID-19 following the company’s announcement of a mandate back in August. 
  • Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test for entry to the parks. 
  • The NBA’s Dallas Mavericks will require all fans to show either proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours of the game. 
  • An experimental pill made by Merck cut the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by about 50%, the company said. Separately, Regeneron’s antibody cocktail reduced the risk of death by roughly 36%, new research shows. 
  • Consumer spending rose 0.8% in August, reversing a decline in July. 
  • The national median rent is up 16.4% from January and 15% from a year ago, when “pandemic pricing” was causing a rapid decline.  
  • Most U.S. restaurant operators say business conditions are worse now compared to three months ago, citing staffing shortages and increased food costs. Some fast-food venues have begun closing their seating areas altogether in response to a growing number of local pandemic restrictions. 
  • Broadway’s reopened production of Aladdin was halted after one day following several breakthrough COVID-19 infections among cast and crew. 
  • The S&P 500 is on track to fall more than 3% this week, its worst weekly performance in a year, as investors reportedly fear higher inflation and slower economic growth. 
  • Business jet-maker Bombardier received a $534 million order for 20 units of an upgraded version of its Challenger 350 plane, its largest deal so far this year. 
  • The U.S. EPA has opened a rule-making process asking how it should regulate key plastics recycling technologies, as many companies report the current regulations to be confusing. 
  • Vineyard Wind, the developer of the U.S.’s first large-scale offshore windfarm, is partnering with Crowley Maritime Corporation to help make Massachusetts’ Salem Harbor a hub for wind projects
  • Electric truck startup Lordstown is selling its Ohio assembly factory to Apple supplier Foxconn, which plans to make an additional $50 million investment on its path toward manufacturing vehicles for Apple.
  • Swiss engineering company ABB claims it has produced the world’s fastest electric car charger, capable of fully charging four vehicles at once within 15 minutes. 
  • Federal regulators estimate self-driving commercial cars and trucks will be involved in at least 200 crashes annually over the next three years.

International Markets

  • The European CDC is warning of potential severe COVID-19 waves over the next two months in member nations with low vaccination rates. 
  • COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, Australia, climbed to a record-high 1,438 Thursday despite two months of strict lockdowns in the region. The nation plans to lift its 18-month ban on traveling abroad next month. 
  • Singapore’s daily COVID-19 cases climbed to a record-high 2,478 Thursday along with two virus deaths, as the country continues to pause its planned reopening. 
  • COVID-19 deaths in Scotland climbed to 165 last week, the most since February. 
  • South Korea extended pandemic restrictions for two weeks after reporting 2,486 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, nearly twice the level as the month before and approaching record highs. 
  • Malaysia recorded nearly 10,000 COVID-19 deaths in September, its worst pandemic month so far. 
  • New COVID-19 cases in Tokyo hit 200 Friday, a sharp decline from the more than 5,000 infections per day in August, as the region dropped its latest pandemic state of emergency. 
  • Asia’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts are picking up steam, with rates in Japan, Malaysia and South Korea surpassing that of the U.S., a stark turnaround from spring. 
  • New Zealand is expected to continue to ban travel to and from Auckland, its largest city, even if officials lift widespread lockdown measures next week.  
  • China appears to have contained its latest outbreak of the COVID-19 Delta variant in Fujian province, reporting zero new cases Thursday for the first time since Sept. 10. 
  • Vietnam is beginning to ease some pandemic curbs in Ho Chi Minh City, hoping to restart business and social activities in the country’s largest commercial hub. 
  • South Africa loosened curbs on alcohol sales and eased limits on the size of public gatherings as the country climbs its way out of a third wave of COVID-19 infections. 
  • A new study shows more than 55 countries have yet to vaccinate 10% of their population against COVID-19,  while roughly 70% of African nations will miss end-of-September inoculation targets set by the World Health Organization earlier this year. 
  • The EU is looking to extend looser state aid rules for virus-hit companies until June 2022, an effort to ease the transition off billions in government funding provided during the pandemic. 
  • Euro zone inflation hit 3.4% in September, rising from 3% a month earlier to a 13-year high. Individually, German inflation rose 4.1% year over year, a 29-year high, while the most recent indices of manufacturing activity weakened in the U.K., FranceGermany and most of Asia
  • Hong Kong’s retail sales rose for the seventh straight month in August, climbing by 11.9% year over year compared to a 2.8% increase in July. 
  • The U.K. will require all companies bidding for contracts worth more than £5 million to pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • Transport and health ministers of the world’s richest G7 nations met Thursday to discuss ways to restart international travel, reaching agreement on key principles to ease border restrictions and promote safe travel abroad.

At M. Holland

  • M. Holland’s 3D Printing group offers a rapid response alternative for producing selected parts where resin availability is tight during prevailing force majeure. 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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