September 10, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

COVID-19 Bulletin: September 10

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  • Oil prices fell to a two-week low Thursday on a smaller-than-expected U.S. crude draw and historic market intervention by China, which announced it would tap into strategic crude reserves in an effort to reduce inflation and lower prices for raw materials. 
  • Oil prices were higher in morning trading, with WTI up 2.1% at $69.58/bbl and Brent up 1.9% at $72.80/bbl. Natural gas was down 1.1% at $4.98/MMBtu.
  • Three-quarters (1.4 million bpd) of U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil production remained offline Thursday as repair efforts from Hurricane Ida dragged on.  
  • Exxon borrowed another 1.5 million barrels of oil from the federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help restore refinery operations on the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Ida.  
  • Royal Dutch Shell declared force majeure on oil deliveries to Asia as 80% of its Gulf Coast production remained offline following Hurricane Ida. 
  • The number of drilled but uncompleted wells in the U.S. fell to the lowest level in four years in July as oil and gas companies focused on well completions over new drilling.  
  • Pemex is a big winner in Mexico’s proposed 2022 federal budget with a 16.8% increase in slated spending.  
  • The White House announced plans to spend $4.3 billion to cut jet fuel emissions by a quarter by the end of the decade. Aircraft currently account for about 2% of global CO2 emissions. 
  • Dow Chemical declared force majeure on LLDPE and HDPE polyethylene products supplied out of St. Charles, Louisiana.
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • Vietnam readied half a million soldiers yesterday in preparation for landfall of Tropical Storm Conson in the coming days. Officials also set up evacuation plans and ordered vessels to stay in port. 
  • The U.S. and Mexico will create a bilateral working group on supply chains aiming to increase the resilience of cross border trade and manufacturing. Boosting investment in regional semiconductor production is a top priority, officials said. 
  • Brazilian truckers led pro-government protests on highways across the country Thursday, with blockades threatening the nation’s key grain and beef export routes. 
  • A leading German train drivers’ union is threatening to call a fourth strike in its pay dispute with rail operator Deutsche Bahn. The group ended its third strike Tuesday, which halted much passenger traffic and disrupted freight services in Europe’s biggest economy. 
  • Greek shipper Euroseas Ltd. entered a record-setting time charter contract of $200,000 per day for at least 60 days on a small, 4,250-TEU-capacity vessel. 
  • Chinese manufacturing inventories are stacking up as COVID-19 restrictions slow operations at the nation’s ports. 
  • Backlogs at U.S. Pacific Northwest container ports are growing again, with more than a dozen vessels holding 4,000 containers at anchor as of Thursday. 
  • Portland, Oregon, will restart services and ad-hoc calls by chartered ships after four years without a weekly container line service. A small coastal port in the city also announced plans to build a full-scale container terminal with the potential for receiving 1 million 40-foot boxes per year.   
  • UPS and the U.S. Postal Service will hire more than 140,000 workers combined in preparation for this year’s busy holiday season.
  • GM will extend the shutdown of an assembly plant in Michigan by two weeks following the expanded recall of its Chevy Bolt electric vehicles. 
  • Car sales in China declined for the third straight month in August compared to a year earlier, reflecting slowed production due to parts and component shortages. 
  • Japanese automakers are bracing for fresh production cuts for the month of October over continued parts and component shortages caused by the pandemic. 
  • Toyota cut its production forecast for 2021 by 300,000 vehicles due to component shortages fueled by COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia.  
  • British IT firm Computacenter expects supply crunches for semiconductor chips to last into next year
  • After recently announcing the purchase of eight new vessels to run on sustainable methanol, Maersk is ramping up its clean fuel sources through investments in Danish bio-methanol supplier WasteFuel. 
  • More than 50 vessels have lined up along the lower Mississippi River waiting to unload soybeans or grain, as Louisiana agricultural exports slowly ramp up following two weeks of disruption caused by Hurricane Ida. 
  • Lowe’s is working to stock its shelves with holiday products earlier than normal, forecasting continued supply chain bottlenecks that will hit especially hard in the coming months for many U.S. retailers. 
  • A Chinese autonomous vehicle startup backed by Nissan will begin developing driverless vans for urban logistics service. 
  • Logistics conditions remain strained, with trucking demand exceeding availability and continued congestion at ports due in part to operating challenges related to the pandemic. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates.

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 145,081 new COVID-19 cases and 1,926 virus fatalities Thursday. 
  • The White House introduced a six-step plan to ramp up the fight against COVID-19, including a requirement that all employers with more than 100 employees mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing or face fines of up to $14,000 per violation, a move expected to cover some 80 million private-sector workers. The move could overwhelm suppliers of COVID-19 tests.  
  • Los Angeles, the U.S.’s second-largest school district, will require all children over age 12 to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they attend in-person classes. 
  • More than 101,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 nationally, leaving hospitals short of beds for other patients. 
  • Health experts are expecting this year’s flu season to be much worse than last year’s, putting further strain on hospitals already grappling with a surge in COVID-19 patients. Moderna is working on a booster shot that would protect against both the coronavirus and flu, the company said. 
  • The number of COVID-19 patients in West Virginia’s ICUs has risen to 252, the most since the start of the pandemic, as the state currently sees the fastest pace of new infections in the country. 
  • Florida’s seven-day averages of new COVID-19 deaths and cases have risen to a respective 338 and 14,276. 
  • Though Michigan’s 1,400 COVID-19 hospitalizations are just a third of highs reached during previous peaks, the state’s healthcare facilities are at their limits due to a critical shortage of staff
  • Hospitals in Idaho have begun rationing care due to a surge of COVID-19 patients. 
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in Los Angeles are picking up among younger people, with a median age of 51 among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated patients. 
  • Half of Alabama’s population now has at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, putting the state ahead of Idaho, Wyoming, West Virginia, Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee and Louisiana. 
  • COVID-19 is greatly exacerbating a shortage of teachers in Texas, with the state reporting more than 65,000 infections among students and staff in just the first few weeks of the school year.
  • Unvaccinated Coloradans are four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than their vaccinated peers, new data shows. 
  • Producer prices in August were up 8.3% from August 2020, the biggest increase since records began in 2010. 
  • Fines will be doubled to up to $3,000 for airline passengers who refuse to wear face masks, the U.S. administration ordered. 
U.S. Airlines Have Experienced A Spike In Unruly Passengers
  • In a pilot program, Miami International Airport is screening American Airlines employees using COVID-19-detecting dogs
  • Microsoft indefinitely suspended its return-to-office date over uncertainty about the spread of COVID-19. 
  • American Express pushed back its return-to-office date to at least Jan. 24. 
  • Most NFL teams have vaccinated more than 95% of players, the league said, as the new season kicks off this week. 
  • Job applications requiring prospective hires to be vaccinated against COVID-19 more than doubled from July to August. 
  • Applications to start new U.S. businesses fell 4.7% in August, the third monthly decline this year as rising COVID-19 cases worry would-be entrepreneurs. 
  • Apartment rents rose in August compared to a year earlier in all the top 30 U.S. metro areas, a pandemic first. 
  • A third of Americans using “buy now, pay later” services have fallen behind on one or more payments, with 72% saying their credit score declined. 
  • Amazon announced plans to pay college tuition for more than 750,000 eligible U.S. employees, a bid to attract and retain hourly workers amid a severe labor shortage. 
  • Walmart will phase out its decades-old quarterly bonuses as it raises its minimum wage for hundreds of thousands of employees across the U.S.

International Markets

  • The Philippines reported 22,820 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, a record. 
  • Japan will extend emergency COVID-19 restrictions in Tokyo and other regions through the end of September to help curb infections and reduce strain on hospitals. 
  • Hospitals in Calgary, Canada, suspended all elective surgeries and most outpatient procedures due to surging COVID-19 hospitalizations. 
  • Cuba has begun vaccinating children as young as age 2 against COVID-19. 
  • With over 80% of people over 12 years of age fully vaccinated, Denmark ended its digital passport program, making it among the first European countries to fully open its domestic economy.  
  • The global death toll from COVID-19 may be as high as 15 million, more than three times the official recorded number, new data suggests. 
  • New research from Israel shows COVID-19 infections rates dropped 84% following a third vaccine dose. 
  • International vaccine-sharing program COVAX cut its 2021 delivery forecast by 25%, citing export restrictions from India’s main manufacturer. 
  • The EU removed Japan and five other nations from its list of safe travel destinations due to rising COVID-19 cases. 
  • New Zealand is set to receive 250,000 Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines from Spain later this week. 
  • Thailand is giving out third doses of COVID-19 vaccines to tourist-heavy areas in preparation of a travel rebound this fall. 
  • Australia is delaying the reopening of Sydney bars, restaurants and gyms to the second half of October
  • Millions of South Asian children lacking online devices and connections are falling behind academically as more schools turn remote. 
  • Non-life insurance premiums could rise 10% above pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021 in response to growing needs for protection against extreme weather events caused by climate change. 
  • The U.K.’s economic recovery stalled in July, with GDP rising by a lower-than-expected 0.1%, a tenth of June’s increase, leaving GDP 2.1% below February 2020 before COVID-19 struck.  
  • Top Canadian banking officials indicated the country may no longer need quantitative easing stimulus as the economy slowly but continuously rebounds from the pandemic. 
  • This week’s Munich Auto Show showcased some of the most impressive new technology and concepts in the electric vehicle (EV) realm, including ultrafast recharging batteries, electric urban motorcycles and turbocharged EV race cars. 
  • Ford announced it will shutter all factories in India and take roughly $2 billion in restructuring charges following similar moves in recent years by Toyota, Harley-Davidson and General Motors due to the country’s high tax rates and value-conscious market. 
  • The EU announced plans to expand its carbon border tariff to more sectors and products after 2030. 

At M. Holland

  • During our latest Plastics Reflections Web Series event, panelists from M. Holland, BPI, LyondellBasell and MTS Logistics discussed how global supply chain complexities are impacting the plastics industry. Click here to access the recording.
  • 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. To arrange a videoconference or meeting with any of our Market Managers, please visit our website.

We will provide further COVID-19 bulletins as circumstances dictate. For all COVID-19 updates and notices, please refer to the M. Holland website.

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