COVID-19 Bulletin: April 14

April 14, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

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Supply

  • The American Petroleum Institute reported a higher-than-expected draw in crude oil inventories of 3.6 million barrels for the week ending April 9. Crude futures in New York jumped 1.6% on the news.
  • Crude futures were higher in mid-day trading today, with the WTI up 4.9% at $63.14/bbl and Brent 4.6% higher at $66.58/bbl. Natural gas was flat at $2.62/MMBtu.
  • OPEC raised its forecast for growth in global oil demand this year, predicting a gain of 5.95 million bpd, or 6.6%, 70,000 bpd higher than last month’s prediction. 
  • China imported 11.7 million barrels of crude oil daily last month, up 21% year over year
  • The national average price per gallon of diesel fell for the third consecutive week after gaining for 20 straight weeks. 
  • Nearly half of all oil pipelines from the Permian Basin, the biggest U.S. oil field, are expected to be empty by the end of the year after a construction spree in 2018 and 2019 created more capacity than needed. 
  • Seven European countries, including Germany, France and Britain will stop public export guarantees for fossil fuel projects.
  • Many small- and medium-size plastic converters in Europe are fighting for survival in the face of raw material shortages and soaring prices, forced to turn away new business as they struggle to fulfill existing orders.
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • Texas is facing another — yet smaller — power-grid emergency due to a mild cold front, as 25% of generators are down for repairs due to February’s storm. The state’s grid operator is urging conservation to avoid blackouts.
  • French carmaker Renault could partially idle three of its four factories in Spain until the end of September as a preemptive measure in case the global semiconductor shortage continues. 
  • Supply chain disruption and hedge buying by concerned automobile companies is creating a shortage of rubber used for tires, the latest looming obstacle confronting the automotive industry. 
  • Longshoremen approved a partial strike at the Port of Montreal over working conditions, portending congestion and shipping delays. Cargo volume at the port was down 11% last month as shippers diverted deliveries in anticipation of the strike. 
  • Roughly 1.9 million TEU of containerized freight held up by the Suez Canal blockage is about to make its way toward ports in Northern Europe, where it is expected to cause further port congestion.
  • Egypt has seized the Ever Given container ship that blocked the Suez Canal, demanding a settlement of roughly $1 billion for damage to the canal and lost business. A similar legal quagmire is tying down thousands of containers of the ship’s cargo, whose owners face new payments and complications in long-delayed shipments. 
  • Bolloré Logistics is telling shippers to delay signing long-term contracts due to the tough terms being offered by shipping lines.
  • UPS and FedEx are restoring some delivery guarantees for overnight air products and international parcel shipments. 
  • 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

  • There were 77,878 new COVID-19 cases and 823 deaths in the U.S. yesterday. Over 192 million vaccine doses have been administered, with 20.8% of the population fully vaccinated. 
  • COVID-19 infections in the U.S. rose 8% last week, the fourth weekly increase, and hospitalizations were up for the second consecutive week. 
  • COVID-19 infections are rising in 27 states, despite aggressive vaccination efforts.  
  • COVID-19 infections surged to over 9,000 in Florida yesterday, the highest level since early February. 
  • Pfizer said it would ramp up vaccine production to offset a loss in deliveries of Johnson & Johnson’s shot after the government urged states not to use it after some recipients suffered blood clots. Johnson & Johnson vaccines make up less than 5% of administered shots in the U.S. to date.
  • A federal advisory panel will meet later today to discuss the fate of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine following reports of several recipients who developed a rare blood clotting disorder after getting the injections.
  • Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine remained more than 90% effective after six months, echoing long-term data from Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine.
  • With the vaccination rate in the U.S. rising, COVID-19 testing is falling, with the daily number of tests down by more than half from the peak testing rate in January.  
  • New York City will spend $120 million to expand summer-school programs meant to help with learning loss during the pandemic. 
  • Rents in the U.S. rose for the first time in eight months in March, increasing 1.1% year over year to $1,436 per month. 
  • State and local authorities have been slow to allocate nearly $25 billion in federal rent relief, leaving many tenants and landlords waiting months for their share from the nation’s largest-ever rental-assistance effort.
  • Global equity markets rose to record highs on Tuesday, led by surging technology stocks, after U.S. consumer price data for March indicated manageable inflation levels. 
  • Five signs of the U.S.’s quickening economic recovery include higher gasoline prices, more car rentals and hotel registrations, greater restaurant traffic, and more people going to sporting events, concerts and theme parks.
  • Ford Motor Co. is hoping to begin having employees return to its Dearborn, Michigan headquarters in July at “significantly reduced capacity” as the company plans to embrace hybrid home and office work.
  • Deutsche Bank AG said it will begin offering Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to all staff and eligible dependents at its New York City office starting next week in hopes of encouraging an eventual return to in-office work. 
  • A surge in electric-vehicle demand is sending the price of raw materials soaring, particularly lithium.
  • Toilet paper sales in January fell more than 4% from the same period a year earlier when consumers stockpiled supplies.
  • United Airlines will repay the U.S. government $520 million of the pandemic aid it received last year. 
  • Boeing delivered 29 aircraft in March, up from 20 a year earlier as the plane maker’s net orders remained positive for the second straight month.
  • American Airlines posted positive cash flow in March before debt and severance payments, reducing its daily cash burn to about $4 million per day compared with $30 million per day in the previous quarter. The airline will expand its summer schedule in anticipation of increased demand stemming from more travelers receiving their COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • Personal care brand Plus has unveiled a new bodywash that comes in a wood pulp package that is 100% dissolvable in water. 
  • Nike is introducing a new program, Nike Refurbished, to refurbish returned, slightly used sneakers for resale as part of its efforts to promote a circular economy.  
  • United Airlines announced a partnership with cargo customers including Nike and Siemens to finance the use of about 3.4 million gallons of low-carbon aviation fuel derived from trash this year.
  • Apple is backing an SEC proposal that would require companies to disclose far-reaching emissions information such as how consumers use their products. 
  • Morgan Stanley announced plans to invest $750 billion in low-carbon solutions by 2030, adding to a previous $250 billion commitment toward such projects. 

International

  • Latin America reported more COVID-19 cases and deaths last week than at any time since the pandemic began, led by infections in Brazil. Many Brazilian cities are reporting more deaths than births, including Rio de Janeiro, which reported more deaths than births for the sixth straight month in March.
  • Argentina reported 27,001 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, a record. 
  • India, once the world’s largest exporter of COVID-19 vaccines, is now seeking imports to contain a record surge in infections. The nation will approve the use of all COVID-19 vaccines that have emergency approval from the World Health Organization or regulators in the U.S., Europe, Britain or Japan.
  • Migrant workers in India who had only recently returned to cities for work after fleeing early in the pandemic are once again heading back to their villages following a resurgence in COVID-19 infections and fears of a new lockdown.
  • France is suspending all flights to and from Brazil to prevent the spread of the highly infectious Brazilian variant of COVID-19.
  • New guidance issued in Italy, where residents aged 70 or older represent 86% of COVID-19 deaths, will prioritize vaccinating the elderly instead of frontline healthcare workers. 
  • Hospitals in Ontario, Canada, are canceling surgeries, transferring patients and preparing for care rationing as a surge in COVID-19 infections strains resources.
  • Thailand reported 1,335 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, its third record in four days. 
  • Australia’s cabinet will begin meeting twice weekly as it adopts a “war footing” to resolve turmoil in the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. 
  • The EU Commission will not renew COVID-19 vaccine contracts with Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca once they expire at the end of the year. The bloc has ordered an extra 50 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to make up for possible lost supply from Johnson & Johnson. 
  • South Africa paused its rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine following the U.S.’s announcement.
  • More than 30 countries have rolled out China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine as data emerges about the shot’s lack of efficacy against virulent mutations of the virus. 
  • Israel’s world-leading vaccination campaign is validating the effect of vaccines in taming the coronavirus:
Israel's Vaccine Rollout Curbs Covid-19 Spread
How Vaccines Reduced Israel's R Number
  • Norway will begin unwinding some COVID-19 restrictions, including gathering limits, as the country reports the lowest rates of infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic. 
  • Scotland is easing some pandemic restrictions earlier than expected, including for domestic travel and outdoor meetings. 
  • A COVID travel certificate proposed by the EU would contain information on a person’s vaccination, tests and recovery.
  • International airlines are experiencing a surge in falsified COVID-19 test certificates required for cross-border travelers. 
  • The U.K. economy grew 0.4% from January to February as companies prepared for the lifting of a third coronavirus lockdown. 
  • JPMorgan’s head of environmental, social and governance (ESG) research says sustainability investment funds in Asia will double for the second year in a row, citing regulation that requires public companies in the region to disclose their ESG data. 

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 is the headline sponsor for AMI’s Thermoplastic Concentrates & Masterbatch Virtual Summit on April 26-29. Christopher Thelen, Regulatory Specialist for M. Holland, will be speaking on Monday, April 26 at 8:00 am CT.
  • 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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