COVID-19 Bulletin: October 19

October 19, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

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  • High natural gas and coal prices continue prompting users to switch to fuel oil and diesel for power generation, pushing up oil prices to multi-year highs. Brent topped $86/bbl in mid-day trading Monday, the highest since 2018, while WTI broached $83.70/bbl, a seven-year high
  • Oil continued its rise in mid-day trading, with WTI up 1.3% at $83.50/bbl and Brent up 1.1% at $85.24/bbl. U.S. natural gas was 1.9% higher at $5.08/bbl. 
  • OPEC+ production in September was 15% below planned output levels, indicating some member nations are struggling to pump more oil despite the gradual easing of pandemic-induced supply curbs. The International Energy Agency last week said OPEC+ spare capacity could fall to below 4 million bpd in the fourth quarter of 2022 from 9 million bpd in the first quarter of this year. 
  • The U.S. Southwest’s Permian Basin, the most productive shale patch in the nation, is increasing output to 4.826 million bpd in October, nearing a pre-pandemic record of 4.913 million bpd in March 2020. 
  • With higher temperatures forecast in Europe until Thursday, surging regional gas prices have slightly eased, cushioning the impact of lower supplies from Russia and more LNG cargoes diverted to Asia.
  • The price of coal in China has more than doubled since the beginning of September amid blackouts and power restrictions, raising the likelihood that regulators will intervene in the market to tame rate volatility. 
  • A group of investors in Saudi Aramco’s oil pipelines is preparing to sell up to $4.5 billion in bonds as soon as this week, as the world’s largest oil producer looks for new ways to raise cash to maintain its $75 billion dividend and complete investment plans. 
  • French supermajor TotalEnergies has opened a new offshore wind hub within its existing U.K. North Sea oil and gas center, which the company says will help its staff transfer skills to renewables as that segment of the company’s business grows. 
  • Ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the U.K. announced that roughly 62% of its energy needs are still generated by fossil fuels, while renewable energy accounts for 6.3%.
  • Commodities trader Mercuria Energy forecast the possibility of oil prices hitting $100/bbl this winter, but said they are more likely to stay in the $80-$90 range.  
  • Texas LNG supplier Stabilis has inked a deal with the state’s southeastern Port of Port Arthur, with plans to spend the next several months preparing dock space capable of shore-to-ship LNG fueling operations for marine vessels. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.

Supply Chain

  • The 12-month period ending Sept. 30 was California’s second-driest year on record and the driest since 1924, as heat waves, reduced snowmelt and population growth contributed to extreme drought conditions throughout the American West. 
  • Production at U.S. factories fell 0.7% in September, the largest decline in seven months due to supply chain snags, material shortages and a sharp pullback in vehicle manufacturing. Total industrial production fell a larger than expected 1.3% for the same period. 
  • Proposed U.S. legislation would create a federal Office of Supply Chain Resiliency and Crisis Response within the Department of Commerce, with $500 million in funding for each of the next five years in a bid to improve the flow of goods and materials through disrupted supply chains. 
  • U.S. spot freight rates moving East to West are nearly three times higher than rates moving West to East, reflecting the imbalance affecting supply chains.  
  • Spot trucking rates out of the Pacific Northwest are surging alongside higher container imports, as intermodal shippers seek new routes for moving freight inland. 
  • Dubai’s main air cargo handler has stopped accepting most imports at the emirate’s main airport as it rushes to reduce a backlog delaying the delivery of goods across the nation. 
  • Ford will temporarily suspend production at its Hermosillo plant in northwestern Mexico due to the ongoing global chip shortage. 
  • Vietnamese factory workers are quitting jobs by the tens of thousands to move to rural areas as the nation’s pandemic lockdowns ease, creating a severe labor shortage adding to supply chain woes. 
  • Online real estate lister Zillow cited labor shortages in its decision to halt until the end of 2021 a new business segment that acquired more than 3,800 properties in the second quarter. 
  • Apple supplier Foxconn unveiled three new electric vehicle concepts Monday, amid reports that the world’s largest electronics manufacturing contractor is vying to be part of Apple’s upcoming automotive projects. 
  • For a partial list of automotive disruptions caused by semiconductor and component shortages, clickhere.
    • Our Logistics team reports the following:Bulk trucking capacity is very limited as demand is exceeding supply.
    • Dry van (full, partial and less-than-truckload) capacity is very limited as demand exceeds supply.
    • Port congestion continues to be very problematic, delaying deliveries of imported containers.
    • Packaging and pulverizing/grinding production challenges persist as demand is exceeding supply

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 116,553 new COVID-19 cases and 1,725 virus fatalities Monday. 
  • Northern U.S. states with early onset of cold weather, including Vermont, Colorado, New Hampshire, Michigan and Minnesota, are seeing higher rates of COVID-19 infection than their warmer counterparts. 
  • Flu cases in the U.S. are up 23% compared to the same time last year, a result of loosened pandemic restrictions that held cases down significantly last fall. 
  • A new study suggests capacity and staffing shortages at U.S. hospitals make the country less prepared to combat a pandemic than in the beginning of 2020.  
  • While 78% of the nation’s largest school districts still require mask-wearing, the number of districts dropping the requirement is growing as COVID-19 infections fall and more states exit the CDC’s “high-risk” category. 
  • Florida’s COVID-19 positivity rate fell to 3.8% last week, the eighth straight week of declines. 
  • A Wyoming ad campaign that depicts stories of people who regret not getting COVID-19 vaccines is going viral, a promising start to boosting numbers in the state with the third-lowest vaccination rate in the nation. 
  • Two-thirds of New York’s 20 million residents are now vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • Ninety-nine percent of Seattle municipal workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the city’s mandate deadline, officials announced. 
  • New Jersey now requires all state employees and school workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo testing at least once per week.  
  • Vocal opposition from business groups shut down a piece of Texas legislation that would have blocked any Texas entity, including hospitals and private businesses, from mandating COVID-19 vaccines for employees. 
  • The CDC is allowing states to order COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 prior to expected authorization of the shots next week. 
  • The FDA is reportedly nearing approval that would allow people to receive COVID-19 boosters that are different from their first dose. 
  • The number of people suffering from anxiety and major depression rose sharply during the pandemic, new studies show. 
  • Total enrollment in Midwestern colleges and universities slid 4.7% in 2020, almost double the drop for the entire U.S., while the number of new freshmen entering college dropped by an average of 16% nationwide. 
  • American Express will let employees work from anywhere they want for at least four weeks out of every year, a unique take on incorporating remote work policies past the end of the pandemic.  
  • Used car prices have risen 24% in the past year, offsetting normal timelines for vehicle depreciation in a boon for car owners. 
  • Amazon will hire 150,000 seasonal workers in the U.S. ahead of the holiday season, a 50% increase over last year’s number. In September, the company announced plans to increase its ranks of permanent employees by 125,000
  • Minnesota’s McKnight Foundation became the largest private U.S. foundation to pledge to net-zero emissions in its $3 billion portfolio by 2050. 
  • Toyota and Jeep parent Stellantis separately announced plans to build electric vehicle battery factories in North America. Toyota pegged expected investment at $3.4 billion through 2030, while Stellantis is teaming up with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution for a plant that could produce batteries with a combined output of up to 40 GWh, enough to supply hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles. 
  • The U.S. Department of Energy has set aside $105 million in funding for small businesses to invest in clean energy technologies, part of the White House’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

International Markets

  • The U.K. reported 49,165 new COVID-19 cases Monday, the most since July, as concerns grow over a Delta-variant mutation suspected of causing the surge. Officials are warning of a potential new surge in the months ahead. 
  • Mexico City on Monday went back to the lowest level of its pandemic warning system for the first time since June. 
  • Japan is preparing to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry into dining venues, as officials warn of a sixth virus wave shaping up this winter. 
  • German officials are prepping to end the nation’s pandemic state of emergency Nov. 25, while keeping in place testing and vaccination requirements for indoor venues. 
  • Pandemic lockdowns in New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland were extended two weeks due to an outbreak of nearly 100 COVID-19 cases. 
  • Sydney, Australia, allowed children to return to school Monday as it begins to ease strict lockdowns in place for the past 106 days. 
  • Russia reported 34,000 new COVID-19 infections Monday, a single-day record, bringing the country’s infection tally to more than 8 million since the start of the pandemic. An all-time-high 1,105 virus deaths were also reported. 
  • The U.S. raised its COVID-19 travel advisory for the finance hub of Singapore to its highest risk category Monday, asking visitors to avoid traveling there. 
  • China reported 24 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in Shaanxi Province Sunday. 
  • Taiwan reported zero COVID-19 cases and fatalities Monday, the first time since April. 
  • South Korea’s one-day COVID-19 infections stayed below 2,000 for the 11th consecutive day, promising signs of an easing virus wave. 
  • Roughly 50% of workers in London have returned to the office, compared to around two-thirds of workers on Wall Street. 
  • The EU has exported more than 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to at least 150 countries since the start of the pandemic, making it the largest exporter of shots in the world. The bloc could soon begin vaccinating children as young as age 5 with Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 shot. 
  • South Africa declined to authorize Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine over concerns that the shot made people more vulnerable to other infections. 
  • The size of the consumer class in Japan, Germany and Italy is shrinking, while those of Asian economies, notably China and India, are projected to see the largest growth to 2030. 
Growth of the Consumer Class Focused on Asia
  • China’s GDP growth slowed to 4.9% in the third quarter, a substantial drop compared to a respective 18.3% and 7.9% in the first and second quarters. The value of home sales in the nation dropped 16.9% in September, with property-developer investments falling 3.5% from a year ago. 
China's Post-Pandemic GDP Growth Disappoints
  • Foreign investment by businesses around the world surged to $852 billion in the first six months of 2021, more than double the $373 billion for the same time last year, led by the U.S., which saw an 88% rise. 
  • A deceleration in large emerging economies, demographic changes and slowing productivity gains will cut the current rate of global economic growth by half by 2060, new research suggests. 
  • India and Israel agreed to resume talks on a free trade agreement in November, with the aim of signing a deal by mid-2022. 
  • Ford announced plans to invest more than $300 million in an electric vehicle component facility in Northern England. 
  • South Korea’s Kia Motors plans to launch 11 new electric vehicles by 2026, with some models capable of wireless or solar battery charging. 
  • South Korea pledged to reduce national carbon emissions by 40% of 2018 levels by 2030. 
  • Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors will invest more than $17 billion by 2030 to drive efforts in renewables and hydrogen technology. 

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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