COVID-19 Bulletin: April 19

April 19, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

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Supply

  • Crude futures were higher in mid-day trading today, with the WTI up 0.4% at $63.38/bbl and Brent 0.4% higher at $67.04/bbl. Natural gas was 1.9% higher at $2.73/MMBtu.
  • Only one-fifth of the historic glut of oil amassed when the pandemic struck is left, underscoring the quickening pace of global demand. 
  • OPEC+ is expected to gradually ease its collective production cuts between May and July, Russian officials indicated.
  • Chinese refineries processed 20% more crude in March after a strong rise in crude imports. 
  • Despite U.S. sanctions, Iran pumped more than 2.3 million bpd of crude in March, the highest level in almost two years on larger imports from China. 
  • The number of active U.S. oil and gas rigs increased by seven last week, bringing the total rig count to 439 — just 90 fewer than the same time last year. 
  • Nigeria is laying plans to ramp up its oil production, with more than 100 oil and gas projects set to begin by 2025.
  • Saudi Aramco is resuming several expansion projects it halted at the start of the pandemic, a move expected to bring the world’s largest oil company another 1.15 million bpd of production by 2024.
  • With the cost of renewables dropping dramatically in the last decade alongside greater awareness of carbon emissions, natural gas is falling out of favor with investors even faster than coal. 
  • CEOs of top European automakers are calling for new taxes on CO2 emissions from gas-powered vehicles, an effort to boost sales of electric vehicles.
  • Thirteen power companies, including Exelon, PSEG and Talen Energy Corp., will work with the White House on a plan to cut carbon emissions by 80% before 2030. 
  • Chevron became the first U.S. oil major to make an investment in the development and commercialization of floating offshore wind turbines
  • Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell aim to transform carbon capture and storage from a sustainability solution into a profit center.
  • Royal Dutch Shell said it will open its Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania, polyethylene complex in 2022.
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • After seeing little rain in the first few months of the year, more than 70% of Mexico is currently in drought, prompting officials to impose water-conservation measures. 
  • Trade tensions between the U.S. and China could further disrupt production of semiconductor chips, the world’s largest chipmaker warned. 
  • Parcel carrier performance returned to pre-pandemic levels for the first time in March, with 82% of shipments delivered on-time
  • The Panama Canal is delaying a planned fee hike by six weeks.  
  • 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

  • The seven-day average for new U.S. COVID-19 cases is up 7% week over week, despite many states nearing a 50% vaccination rate. The U.S.’s top infectious disease expert called the nation’s situation “precarious.”  
  • The U.S. reported 79,000 COVID-19 cases Friday, 52,373 cases Saturday and 42,018 yesterday
  • The CDC reported on Sunday that half of Americans aged 18 and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, while approximately 32% of adults have been fully vaccinated. 
  • Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont expanded vaccine eligibility today, fulfilling the White House’s pledge to make vaccines available to all adult citizens by April 19.  
  • After leading the U.S. in daily COVID-19 infections for weeks, Michigan’s governor says that the state’s active infection rate could be beginning to slow down.
  • New research shows that people who have already been infected with COVID-19 may need only one dose of a two-dose vaccine to be immunized against the virus. 
  • AstraZeneca predicts it will have a new COVID-19 vaccine for mutations of the virus by the end of this year. 
  • Johnson & Johnson’s own researchers found insufficient evidence linking its COVID-19 vaccine to an extremely rare blood clotting condition that prompted U.S. officials to halt the shot’s rollout. The one-shot vaccine could return to use in the U.S. by Friday
  • Florida hospitals notched a nearly 50% decline in COVID-19 admissions for people aged 70 or older, an indication of the vaccine campaign’s early success. 
  • The White House is sending $1.7 billion to states to improve the detection and mitigation of virulent COVID-19 mutations that threaten to hinder the country’s quickening vaccination campaign. 
  • U.S. industrial production jumped by 1.4% in March, a lower-than-expected gain after a 2.6% decline the previous month. 
  • U.S. stocks ended the week with fresh all-time records after several days of gains, a result of increased optimism over the nation’s economic rebound.
  • The 0.6% increase in U.S. jobs last month was spread throughout the country, with payrolls increasing in 49 states led by California, Texas and New York. 
  • U.S. consumer sentiment continued to rise in early April, coming in at 86.5 compared to 84.9 in March, with consumer spending at restaurants, hotels and salons picking up speed
Fueled by Stimulus Checks, U.S. Retail Sales Soar
  • Demand is outstripping supply in the U.S. housing market, with a current shortage of nearly 4 million single-family homes, a 52% increase compared to 2018. Builders began construction on 1.74 million new units in March, a 19.4% increase over February. 
  • There were 200,000 more business closures in the U.S. last year, a smaller-than-expected impact of the pandemic, according to Federal Reserve data.
  • The economic recovery has so far bypassed many small businesses, with revenues from the small business sector down 20% due to business closures and the asymmetrical rebound.  
  • Boeing’s embattled 737 MAX jet is facing new scrutiny after the company warned airlines that the electrical problem that prompted the jet’s original grounding affects more areas of the aircraft than previously known. 
  • General Motors is partnering with LG Chem to invest more than $2.3 billion for a second U.S. battery cell plant in Tennessee, a significant boost for the company’s emerging electric vehicle lineup. 
  • Food-service logistics provider Quality Custom Distribution ordered 14 electric heavy-duty trucks from Volvo Trucks’ North America unit. 
  • As part of its goal to use only renewable energy resources by 2025, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced plans to begin using solar power to brew its Michelob Ultra Pure Gold beer. 
  • Heineken wants all transport providers in its supply chain to be carbon-neutral by 2040

International

  • Global COVID-19 infections hit a record 5.2 million last week.  
  • Global COVID-19 deaths topped 3 million over the weekend, with the latest 1 million deaths coming faster than the first two and Europe comprising more than 1 million of the fatalities. 
  • Canada’s seven-day average of COVID-19 cases has tripled in a month, with more than half of new infections arising in Ontario where new restrictions went into effect. Police in the province are refusing to follow through with a recent rule allowing them to conduct random vehicle or individual stops to help impose the stay-at-home order. Canada is sending additional emergency aid to the province to contain the recent case surge. 
  • India recorded a new high of more than 261,000 COVID-19 cases on Sunday as several cities imposed strict new lockdowns. India’s capital New Delhi, where 1 in every 3 people tested positive for the virus, faces an acute shortage of hospital beds. The nation is struggling to detect the presence of highly infectious virus strains due to its large population.
  • Pakistan reported its highest one-day spike in new COVID-19 cases this year at 6,127. 
  • Indonesia is reporting daily COVID-19 case counts close to 5,000, while the virus has spread to all 34 of the nation’s provinces. 
  • Short on hospital beds for COVID-19 patients, Cambodia is turning to wedding halls as makeshift hospital facilities.
  • Hong Kong is banning flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines for two weeks. 
  • COVID-19 deaths in Turkey hit 318 on Sunday, a record. 
  • China is expected to authorize Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use by July, making it the nation’s first approved foreign shot.
  • Colombia detected its first case of the highly infectious COVID-19 variant from the U.K. 
  • Guatemala is restricting entry for arrivals from Brazil, the U.K. and South Africa to control the spread of virulent COVID-19 mutations. 
  • Chile is seeing a rising number of COVID-19 infections despite administering more than half of its adult population with China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, sowing doubts about the drug’s efficacy.
  • Brazil warned women to avoid pregnancy during the pandemic due to risks from new variants of COVID-19.  
  • The EU has ordered an additional 100 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in hopes of offsetting problems caused by the rollout from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. 
  • France imposed a 10-day quarantine for travelers from Brazil but plans to allow American arrivals as early as this summer as long as they can show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. 
  • Even countries with the highest levels of COVID-19 vaccination, such as the U.K. and Israel, are keeping international flight restrictions in place, portending continued struggles for the airline industry. 
  • A manufacturing issue will cause a shortfall in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to Canada and the U.K. in the second quarter. 
  • The pandemic has wreaked havoc on global food supplies, particularly in West Africa, where 30% more people are facing hunger than the same period last year. 
  • COVID-19 vaccinations have slowed to a trickle in many developing nations, with the COVAX collaboration on pace to distribute only 145 million doses by the end of May, versus a goal of 240 million, as India and other countries commandeer doses for their own use. The pandemic is expected to cause long-lasting consequences to the global economy, many of them an effect of widening inequality. 
  • Israel’s economy grew at a record 6.5% annualized rate in the fourth quarter, spurred by a sharp increase in car imports and other private consumption. 
  • French automaker Renault laid plans to step up its recycling and repair capacity, with the aim of generating more than $1.2 billion in sales from a “circular economy” factory outside Paris. 
  • In a rare bout of cooperation, U.S. and Chinese officials agreed for the two countries to work together on setting new emissions goals to tackle climate change.

Our Operations

  • Tomorrow: Join our Plastics Reflections Web Series on 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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