COVID-19 Bulletin: October 27

October 27, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

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  • Oil prices climbed Tuesday, with both Brent and U.S. benchmark WTI settling at seven-year highs of $86.40/bbl and $84.65/bbl, respectively. 
  • Oil futures were lower in late morning trading on news of larger-than-expected U.S. crude builds last week, with WTI down 1.6% at $83.26/bbl and Brent down 1.6% at $84.83/bbl. U.S. natural gas futures were 1.5% higher at $5.97/MMBtu. 
  • The U.S. average for a gallon of gas rose to $3.39 Tuesday, a seven-year high that so far has had little effect on demand. The White House indicated it would continue pressuring OPEC to boost production beyond a planned 400,000-bpd monthly output increase. 
  • The average residential price for propane has jumped by 50% from a year ago to $2.69 per gallon, a multi-year high. 
  • EU members will pay about $30 billion more for natural gas in 2021 than they would have under the old contract-pricing structure done away with over the past decade. Europe’s natural gas inventories are at their lowest seasonal level in at least a decade amid competition with Asia for liquified cargoes. 
  • Canada’s TC Energy is the latest North American oil producer to pledge net-zero emissions from its operations by 2050.
  • EU countries met Tuesday but failed to agree on whether to overhaul the bloc’s energy laws in response to recent surging prices. A novel proposal by Spain would set up a system to jointly secure option contracts to allow countries to buy fuel during times of scarcity and when prices rise sharply. 
  • Dutch producer NAM is selling off assets ahead of the wind-down of operations at its Groningen field, once a main supply of gas to Europe, over fears of seismic damage to nearby homes and buildings. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.

Supply Chain

  • Severe rains from the U.S. West Coast drenched New York and New Jersey yesterday, prompting governors of both states to declare a state of emergency. In California, as much as two feet of rain has fallen since last Tuesday, extinguishing two of the state’s largest wildfires and replenishing reservoirs emptied by drought. 
  • The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have begun charging daily $100 fees for containers that linger at terminals longer than nine days if moving by truck and three days if moving by rail. The Port of Long Beach will allow stacking of four containers compared with a longtime limit of two, as a record 80 vessels wait offshore to enter the U.S.’s largest ocean freight gateway. 
  • Congestion at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is slowing the flow of goods into UPS’ network, with more customers relying on the shipper’s air cargo services to avoid shortages. Despite declining third-quarter shipping volumes, UPS saw a 9.2% jump in revenue over the previous year thanks to higher rates. 
  • Average container prices in China have plunged 22% for trading and 35% for leasing, the first signs of stabilization in months.
  • The CEO of Ocean Network Express, one of the world’s largest freight companies, predicts the current supply chain crisis could last another year absent government initiatives to incentivize employment. 
  • Starting Nov. 1, the Suez Canal will lower the fixed rebate on canal tolls for LNG carriers from 25% to 15%
  • The global fleet of LNG carriers could surpass the number of very large crude carriers by 2025, new research suggests. 
  • The U.S. trucker shortage has risen to an all-time high of 80,000, the American Trucking Associations said, a number that could double by 2030. 
  • Lumber prices have risen sharply again to around double pre-pandemic levels, driven by tight supplies and a pickup in homebuilding. 
  • Magnesium producers in China have been gradually restoring output since the start of October and are now at roughly 80% capacity, dampening fears of a shortage causing widespread manufacturing stoppages. 
  • Miner Rio Tinto has begun processing its own sludge from giant U.S. copper pits as it seeks to capitalize on widespread shortages of key minerals used in technology products. 
  • Japan’s shipowners’ association announced its support for proposals to spend $10 billion annually on building low- or zero-emission ships powered by carbon-recycled methane, hydrogen and ammonia. Supplies of methanol and ammonia are currently too limited to power the world’s 60,000 oceangoing ships, new research shows. 
  • London’s Heathrow Airport reports losing hundreds of logistics employees to Amazon, just as air travel demand rebounds. 
  • Amtrak has asked the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to require CSX and Norfolk Southern Railway to allow its trains access to freight rail lines between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, so that it can resume passenger service shut down by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 
  • For a partial list of automotive disruptions caused by semiconductor and component shortages, click here.
  • 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 61,863 new COVID-19 infections and 1,535 virus fatalities Tuesday. 
  • The FDA recommended Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 5 years old, paving the way for full CDC approval in the coming days. Pfizer is investigating whether the smaller dose of its COVID-19 vaccine for younger children could also be effective with adolescents
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations among U.S. children have dropped 56% since the end of August. 
  • Moderna indicated that recipients of its COVID-19 vaccine could need annual booster doses to maintain immunity.  
  • Colorado is considering imposing new mask and vaccine mandates for indoor venues amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. 
  • A federal judge upheld Washington state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state workers and emergency responders. 
  • Louisiana lifted its indoor mask mandate for all settings except some public schools amid a broad decline in COVID-19 cases. 
  • The CDC has extended COVID-19 testing and masking measures for cruise ship passengers until Jan. 15. 
  • More than 96% of Tyson Foods’ 120,000 U.S. workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the company’s Nov. 1 mandate deadline. 
  • U.S. defense contractor Raytheon Technologies anticipates losing several thousand of its 125,000 U.S. workers ahead of the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline for government contractors on Dec. 8. 
  • The CDC is encouraging children to trick-or-treat and celebrate Halloween this year, while asking the public to practice COVID-19 safety protocols so that festivities can go on safely. 
  • U.S. consumer confidence rose in October for the first time in four months amid a drop in COVID-19 cases, while higher prices for household goods could hold back further improvement in the coming months. 
  • Google parent Alphabet saw its highest sales growth in more than a decade and nearly doubled its profit to $21.03 billion in the third quarter, as smaller businesses poured money into digital ads. Higher ad sales also pushed Twitter’s revenue up 37% in the third quarter. 
  • Microsoft reported third-quarter revenue of $45.3 billion, up 22% from the previous year on increased cloud computing from the pandemic-induced shift to working from home and remote schooling. 
  • Housing demand in the U.S. held at record highs in August despite an almost 20% rise in home prices from the year before. 
  • U.S. college enrollment has dropped 3.2% from last year and 6.5% from two years ago, the steepest decline in a half-century. 
  • Half of working women in the U.S. say the pandemic had a negative impact on their career, while roughly two-thirds of women who left the workforce plan to return soon.  
  • Hertz will supply up to 50,000 Tesla electric vehicles (EVs) to Uber drivers by 2023, a milestone for third-party ride sharing announced just a day after the car rental company agreed to purchase 100,000 Tesla EVs. 
Tesla Joins the Trillion-Dollar Club
  • GM will resume production of the recalled Chevrolet Bolt EV, with limited building set to restart at its assembly plant in Orion, Michigan, on Nov. 1. The automaker separately announced plans to build a network of 40,000 electric vehicle chargers at its North American dealerships by 2025. 
  • Boeing has been producing just two of its 787 Dreamliner jets per month, creating problems for suppliers who expect regulatory concerns to keep production of the jets low into next year. The beleaguered company reported a quarterly loss for the third quarter.  
  • Chicago will soon begin the nation’s largest guaranteed basic income program, using federal stimulus dollars for $500 monthly payments to certain low-income households. 
  • Panera Bread announced several broad new environmental goals for 2050, including 50% use of renewable energy in stores and 100% use of recyclable, reusable and compostable packaging.     

International Markets

  • The U.K. reported nearly 41,000 new COVID-19 cases and 263 virus deaths Tuesday, its highest death toll since March, as the government mulls renewed restrictions.  
  • Russia recorded more than 36,000 new COVID-19 infections and 1,100 virus deaths Tuesday, a record. The government imposed new nightly curfews on hospitality venues. 
  • Bulgaria, Europe’s least vaccinated country, reported record COVID-19 infections as it experiences a fourth virus wave.  
  • Denmark is seeing early signs of a new virus wave despite having one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world. 
  • Sweden crossed more than 15,000 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.  
  • New Zealand is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine mandate to include roughly 40% of its total workforce. 
  • South Korea’s new COVID-19 cases soared above 2,000 just as the nation approaches lifting most pandemic restrictions Nov. 1. 
  • Hong Kong is increasing mandatory quarantine periods from two to three weeks for travelers from the U.S. and parts of Europe, as lawmakers affirmed commitments to a “zero infection” virus strategy. 
  • Asian and Latin American nations are beginning to surpass Europe and the U.S. in administering COVID-19 vaccinations. 
Stagnation & Progress in Global COVID-19 Vaccinations
  • Mexico City has begun vaccinating high-risk children as young as 12 years old.  
  • European health regulators approved Moderna’s COVID-19 booster dose for all adults.  
  • France purchased 50,000 doses of Merck’s unapproved COVID-19 antiviral pill, which is expected to be the first home virus treatment. Merck has voluntarily agreed to let other international companies manufacture the pill.  
  • Moderna announced that it will supply 110 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa by the first half of 2022, with plans to send the first 15 million shots before the end of this year. The deliveries could help Africa boost its struggling vaccine numbers:
The Global Vaccine Imbalance
The Road to Net Zero
  • Beijing-based Modern Land China, a so-called “green” real estate developer, has become the latest of the nation’s builders to miss debt payments amid a growing crisis over widespread property debt. 
  • A new United Nations report shows that current commitments to lower greenhouse gas emissions will not be enough to prevent global temperatures from rising an average of 2.7°C this century.   

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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