COVID-19 Bulletin: April 12

April 12, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

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Supply

  • Crude futures were higher in early trading today, with the WTI up 0.6% at $59.65/bbl and Brent up 0.5% at $63.24/bbl. Natural gas was 0.6% higher at $2.54/MMBtu. 
  • The White House will not shut down the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline pending environmental review of the project.
  • Gas prices in the U.S. could hit the highest in three years this summer, the Energy Information Administration predicts. 
  • The amount of gas flowing to U.S. liquefied natural gas export plants hit a six-week low late last week, largely the result of maintenance at a Cheniere Energy facility. 
  • Daily rates for small oil tankers have begun recovering after OPEC+ announced a gradual production increase of 2 million bpd between May and July. 
  • Fracking in North America has nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels, with started frac jobs reaching a one-year high in March. 
  • China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon, started more coal-fired capacity in 2020 than the rest of the world combined.
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • The White House is convening the senior executives of almost 20 major companies today, several of them automakers, to address the nation’s response to a global shortage of semiconductor chips. General Motors extended a spate of recent production halts to two U.S. plants over the weekend. 
  • An increase in the costs of raw materials across the globe led the producer-price index to rise by 1% in March, leading experts to speculate on costs being passed down to the consumer. 
  • The U.S. administration’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan will be presented to a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the U.S. House and Senate today, the first step toward gaining Congressional approval of the momentous plan.
  • With China responsible for over 90% of the global market for magnets made from rare earths, Western nations are investing heavily to increase their own production capacity for technologies like electric vehicle motors and wind turbines. 
  • Container volumes at China’s eight biggest ports rose a combined 35% in February from the year-ago period. 
  • Greek tanker operators, the dominant owners of the world’s supply of crude oil tankers, have penned a flurry of new very large crude carriers orders in recent months, reflecting optimism in the oil sector. 
  • Overcrowded ports, a lack of ships, and shortages of truckers and dockworkers has led to an increase in global shipping costs that analysts expect to continue throughout 2021. 
  • South Carolina’s new Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal opened on Friday at the Port of Charleston, marking the first new terminal built in the U.S. in over a decade. 
  • The European Union suggested a suspension of tariffs on billions of dollars of trade with the U.S. for the next six months, a sign the bloc is seeking compromise over a 16-year-old aircraft subsidy dispute.
  • With the availability of industrial real estate low and rental prices high, Amazon has converted roughly 25 failed shopping malls into distribution centers, spurred by the falloff of mall business during the pandemic.
  • Vacancy rates at Canadian warehouses are at historic lows despite a near-record 26.1 million square feet of logistics real estate under construction.
  • 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.

Markets

  • New COVID-19 cases in the U.S. jumped to over 82,000 on Friday, falling back to above 65,000 on Saturday. 
  • There were 46,378 new COVID-19 cases and 283 deaths in the U.S. yesterday. Over 187 million vaccine doses have been administered, with 20.2% of the population fully vaccinated.  
  • Michigan’s governor is urging a two-week shift to remote school alongside halting youth sports and indoor dining, as daily COVID-19 infections averaged more than 7,200 the past week. 
  • With about one-fifth of the U.S. population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, everyday life is beginning to show signs of pre-pandemic normalcy. 
  • Many of the U.S.’s largest school districts are planning to fully reopen schools in the fall for in-person instruction. 
  • The federal government and most state legislatures are split on measures that would require Americans to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to return to work, travel or attend events. 
  • Pfizer/BioNTech are asking U.S. regulators to approve their COVID-19 vaccine for use on adolescents
  • A recent study suggests the South African variant of COVID-19 may be able to “break through” the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.  
Global COVID-19 Cases Climb as New Variants Take Hold
  • Deliveries of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine are expected to drop by more than 80% this week, as the company awaits regulatory authorization for a contract manufacturer’s plant in Baltimore. 
  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is seeking approval from the FDA to expand the use of its antibody drug to treat COVID-19 after a new study showed that use of the cocktail reduced the risk of developing symptomatic infection by 81%.
  • COVID-19 vaccination rates in Native-American tribes are significantly outpacing those of the general population.
  • Post-vaccination life is turning out much different for many Americans, with paradigm shifts in everything from careers to home life to personal goals. The closures of schools have hit America’s youth particularly hard, as symptoms of anxiety, depression and behavioral problems spike. 
  • The White House proposed a $14 billion spending package to address climate change in the 2022 budget, including large cash injections for environmental regulation and research. 
  • The chairman of the Federal Reserve expects output and job growth to accelerate in the months ahead, the latter by as much as 1 million new jobs a month. With expectations of the economy’s best growth since 1983, economists are also concerned about rising inflation rates. 
  • About 4.2 million American adults are not working due to fears of getting or spreading COVID-19, a U.S. Census Bureau survey shows. 
  • Defaults by low-rated U.S. companies have fallen to their lowest level in 10 months, extending rallies in the junk bond and floating-rate loan markets. 
  • Equity funds have attracted more than half a trillion dollars in the past five months, exceeding inflows over the previous 12 years combined. 
  • Amazon workers in Alabama voted against forming a union by a more than 2-to-1 margin.
  • More than 220 local union employees in the Puget Sound area have authorized a strike if a contract cannot be reached with Boeing, a move that could affect production in the company’s Northwest region.
  • Hula hoops joined drive-in movies as another 1950s fad resurrected by the pandemic, with sales up 20% to a record level in 2020 and weighted and “smart” versions of the toy introduced as stay-at-home workers turned to them as a fitness routine. 

International

  • Total coronavirus infections in the South Asia sub-region surpassed 15 million over the weekend, led by infections in India, where the vaccine supply is low.
  • India recorded over 168,000 new COVID-19 cases today, surpassing Brazil as the nation with the second highest number of total COVID-19 cases behind the U.S. India granted emergency use authorization for Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, the third shot approved for use in the country.
  • For the second day in a row, Thailand set a record for new COVID-19 cases today.  
  • The Philippines is easing pandemic lockdowns in the capital and four neighboring provinces despite record COVID-19 cases. 
  • French COVID-19 patients in ICU beds hit a five-month high over the weekend, rising by 52 to 5,757.
  • Germany’s health minister is urging that the country go into a brief but strict total lockdown after the daily number of COVID-19 cases hit 25,000 on Friday. 
  • Turkey now has the highest level of COVID-19 cases in Europe and the Middle East, with 85% coming from the highly infectious U.K. variant of the virus. 
  • The number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs in Sweden is at the highest level since spring 2020.  
  • Lockdown measures will be eased starting today in six Italian regions, as new COVID-19 cases have fallen by 30% over the last five days despite daily deaths remaining above 400. 
  • Canada is dropping its age-based COVID-19 vaccine rollout in favor of a campaign targeting frontline workers, an effort to control resurgent cases. The nation’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases now exceeds that of the U.S. 
  • Brazil recorded 1,803 COVID-19 deaths on Sunday, while the country’s most populous state eased restrictions on hospitality businesses and other activities, citing enough room in its hospital system to keep up with current patient levels. 
  • Mexico recorded a massive spike in one-day COVID-19 deaths late last week after consolidating data from deaths that were not confirmed in 2020. 
  • France is lengthening the period between the first and second shots of COVID-19 vaccines to accelerate a lagging inoculation campaign. 
  • The European Union’s slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines may have reached a turning point, with hopes for more than 50% of people being inoculated by late July. 
  • French and German health officials are advising that some people who received a first dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot receive a second dose of a different vaccine
  • Ireland added the U.S., Canada, Belgium, France and Italy to its list of countries where arrivals will be subject to mandatory hotel quarantines
  • Following nearly 100 days of lockdown, non-essential retailers in the U.K., along with restaurants and bars, reopened to the public
  • On Saturday, Peru marked its second straight day of record COVID-19 fatalities as healthcare workers battle a shortage of medical oxygen and overwhelmed hospitals. 
  • Colombia became the latest in a growing list of countries to allow private imports of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has raised doubts about China’s COVID-19 vaccines, saying that they offer only low protection against the virus, raising anxiety among officials of lower income countries who are relying on the country to deliver the doses.  
  • China is considering mixing COVID-19 vaccines to boost their efficacy. The nation expects to produce at least 3 billion doses by the end of the year. 
  • The World Bank will have committed $2 billion in financing by the end of April for COVID-19 vaccines in 40 developing countries. 
  • Italy’s economy is expected to grow roughly 4.1% this year and next after shrinking nearly 9% last year. 
  • French lawmakers banned domestic flights on routes that can be covered by train in under two-and-a-half hours, an effort to lower the country’s carbon footprint. 

Our Operations

  • Our next Plastics Reflections Web Series is Tuesday, April 20 at 1:00 pm CT. This webinar focused on Driving Sustainability Action in the Plastics Industry will feature panelists from Business Publishing International (BPI), Danimer Scientific, Coca-Cola and M. Holland. Click here to learn more and register.
  • 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.

Thank you,

M. Holland Company

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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