September 20, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

COVID-19 Bulletin: September 20

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  • Oil prices eased on Friday as hurricane-induced production disruptions in the U.S. started to clear. Roughly 28% of Gulf Coast production remained offline over the weekend three weeks after Hurricane Ida.
  • Oil futures were lower in morning trading today, with WTI down 1.2% to $71.14/bbl and Brent off 0.9% to $74.59/bbl. Natural gas was up 1.0% to $5.16/MMBtu.
  • The current average of $3.19 per gallon of gas in the U.S. is 50% higher than at the start of the year, prompting the White House to launch a probe into rising fuel prices.
  • U.S. natural gas prices rose 17% over the past month to their highest levels in a decade, with analysts pointing to a series of extreme weather events hampering alternative fuel source supply in 2021, from February’s Texas freeze to record summer heat to Hurricanes Ida and Nicholas.
  • British officials will hold a third day of emergency talks with energy companies to bring down surging gas and electricity prices that have more than tripled this year due to a supply crunch.
  • COVID-19 infections are surging in Canada’s top oil-producing province of Alberta, with regional hospitals expected to begin rationing care absent emergency government resources. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • California’s 21,000-acre KNP wildfire, the largest in a trio of blazes sparked in recent weeks, has moved closer to the state’s giant sequoia forests, prompting evacuations in several nearby communities. 
  • What is expected to become the U.S.’s 16th named tropical storm, Peter, began forming late Saturday in the Atlantic, forecast to bring heavy rainfall to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico through Tuesday.
  • Three weeks after Hurricane Ida made landfall in the U.S., power is still out for almost 40,000 residents in southeast Louisiana as many remain displaced from their homes. The storm is expected to raise already high car prices, with thousands of vehicles damaged on southern U.S. lots.
  • An infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate in August, would provide $110 billion in new funding for U.S. roads, bridges and major projects over five years, as well as $66 billion for rail and $39 billion for public transit. A House vote on the bill is expected later this month.
  • Officials at top southeastern U.S. ports predict significant congestion and backlogs to persist in the near term.
  • U.S. regulators are one step closer to approving new demurrage and detention guidelines that will reduce fees for shippers that are unable to collect boxes from or return empty containers to overwhelmed terminals. 
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation has launched an information request to logistics stakeholders as it seeks to identify and help solve several sources of disruption such as container and intermodal chassis shortages.
  • Maersk is forecasting record profits for 2021 after sharply raising its financial outlook for the third time this year.
  • CMA CGM has been linked to a $720 million order for six container ship newbuilds from South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries. 
  • Airfreight rates out of Asia are surging as strong peak season demand combines with highly constrained capacity.
  • CVS Health hopes to hire 25,000 employees in a one-day hiring spree to counter staff shortages that have forced the pharmacy to turn away shot seekers and close drive-through lanes.  
  • FedEx is upping the usual number of employees it hires ahead of peak holiday season to 90,000 this year, a 20,000 increase over last year.
  • U.S. business inventories rose 0.5% in July after climbing 0.9% in June, in line with analysts’ expectations despite strong supply-side disruption pressures, including high input prices, logistics bottlenecks, hiring constraints and raw material shortages.
  • Bangladesh moved to become the world’s second-largest apparel exporter following continued pandemic-induced factory shutdowns in former No. 2 Vietnam.
  • British retail giant Marks & Spencer announced the closure of 11 of its French stores, citing continued effects of post-Brexit supply chain disruption.
  • Among the many disruptions impacting supply chains, our logistics team is recently seeing:
    • Particularly congested freight conditions in the Southeast U.S. and certain parts of the Midwest (Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Ohio) due to supply demand imbalances.
    • Inventory backlogs at warehouses surrounding some congested ports.
    • A return of shortages of some packaging (e.g., corrugated octa-bins, pallets).
  • Customers are urged to provide accurate forecast and expanded lead times to ensure timely delivery.

Automotive Updates

  • Semiconductor producers, consumers and industry groups will convene on Washington Thursday for a meeting with top White House officials over the global chip shortage. 
  • Below is a partial list of automotive disruptions caused by semiconductor and component shortages:
    • Toyota: Global production is expected to be down 330,000 units next month.
    • Ford: At its KC Assembly Plant, pickup and van sides of the plant will be shut down for the fourth week until Sept. 20.
    • FCA: Its Ontario Minivan Plant will be down Sept. 13-27.
    • GM has experienced several disruptions:
      • The Orion Assembly has suspended Chevy Bold production through Oct. 15 due to a shortage of battery packs.
      • The Wentzville Assembly plant, down since Sept. 6, will resume building  Colorado, Canyon, Express and Savana models Sept. 27. 
      • Down since Feb. 8, the Fairfax Assembly plant is expected to start production of the XT4 Sept. 20 but will continue to keep the Malibu down through Oct. 29.
      • The CAMI Assembly plant, down since July 19, is expected to resume Equinox production on Oct. 15.
      • The Lansing Grand River Assembly facility, which builds the Camaro and Cadillac CT4 and CT5, will be down through Oct. 1.   
      • The Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant, which builds the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave and has been down since July 19, is expected restart on Oct. 4.
      • At the Ramos Arizpe Assembly plant, down since Aug. 23, Chevy Blazer production will resume Oct. 1 and Equinox production will resume Oct. 15.
      • In Mexico, the San Luis Potosi Assembly plant, which builds the Equinox and GMC Terrain, will be down through Oct. 15.

Domestic Markets

International Markets

  • Computer models suggest global COVID-19 deaths could be as high as 15 million, more than triple the officially recorded number of 4.5 million.
  • Australia is easing some quarantine restrictions following growing civil unrest over the nation’s strict pandemic curbs. Meanwhile, New Zealand extended strict quarantines for travelers from Australia by two months.
  • Japanese officials predict the country could start administering COVID-19 booster shots by the end of the year.
  • Singapore reported 935 new COVID-19 infections Friday, the most since April 2020.
  • Brazil reported more than 150,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day last week, the result of backlogged data reports spanning several months.
  • Roughly 90% of people in India’s financial capital of Mumbai have COVID-19 antibodies, new data shows, suggesting the nation’s record-setting spring outbreak was more widespread than initially thought.
  • The U.K. streamlined COVID-19 rules for incoming travelers, a bid to boost the nation’s faltering tourism industry ahead of the holiday season.
  • Italy is seeing double the bookings for COVID-19 vaccines after the nation made virus health passes a requirement for workers.
  • Dubai police have begun using COVID-19-sniffing dogs that can detect the virus through sweat samples with 92% accuracy, officials claim.
  • The World Health Organization suspended its approval process for Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, citing inadequate lab standards for a shot that low-income countries have relied on throughout the pandemic.
  • Global markets were roiled today by concerns about China’s troubled housing market
  • U.K. retail sales fell 0.9% in August, extending a record streak of monthly declines since April and raising doubts about the central bank’s impending plans to hike interest rates as the nation’s economy rebounds.
  • China formally applied to join an 11-nation Asia-Pacific trade pact first championed by the U.S. two administrations ago.

At M. Holland

  • Plastics Reflections Web Series: Supply Chain Constraints & Forecast— Experts from BPI, LyondellBasell and MTS Logistics joined M. Holland to discuss current supply chain challenges impacting the global plastics industry. Click here to read key insights shared during the broadcast and 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.

For all COVID-19 updates and notices, please refer to the M. Holland website.

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