COVID-19 Bulletin: April 21

April 21, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

Hello,

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Supply

  • Domestic crude stockpiles rose by 436,000 barrels last week, according to the American Petroleum Institute, sending oil prices down slightly toward $62 per barrel. 
  • Crude futures were lower in mid-day trading today, with the WTI down 1.0% at $62.02/bbl and Brent 0.9% lower at $65.98/bbl. Natural gas was 1.7% lower at $2.68/MMBtu. 
  • Libya’s state-owned oil company declared force majeure on the port of Hariga due to a lack of funds for infrastructure repairs, pushing the country’s crude production below 1 million bpd for the first time in months as the company suspended production at several fields. 
  • Diesel prices fell for the fourth consecutive week, hitting an average of $3.124 per gallon
  • India’s oil production has dropped by 5% from last April, with refiners processing 13% less crude due to a slump in demand.
  • The Gulf Cooperation Council announced as much as $10 billion worth of new projects in the oil and gas sector during the first quarter of 2021.
  • Global oil consumption could rise from current levels by as much as 8 million bpd by the end of 2022, predicts oil trader Vitol Group. 
  • Lawmakers in the U.S. House passed a bill that would open OPEC to collusion lawsuits for its practice of controlling petroleum prices, although similar legislative efforts have failed over the past 20 years. 
  • The U.S. Treasury created a new position this week to coordinate wide-ranging efforts to combat climate change using economic and tax policies. 
  • Cargill, General Mills and McDonald’s are part of a consortium of companies planning to launch a national carbon market by 2022 that will allow the agricultural industry to sell carbon emission credits.  
  • In a first for a major oil company, Royal Dutch Shell will conduct a feasibility study on the use of hydrogen fuel cell technology to power ships.  
  • Smaller companies are snapping up fossil fuel assets being divested by major oil and gas and mining companies in a bet that renewables adoption will be slower than expected.  
  • The EU has agreed to a tentative deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and to become climate-neutral by 2050. 
  • U.K. banking giant HSBC will use recycled PVC plastic for all its debit, credit and commercial cards by 2026. 
  • The Plastics Industry Association released an update regarding industry safety standards, with changes focusing on robots for injection molding as well as equipment for material size reduction for processing and recycling.
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • Japanese carmaker Subaru is suspending production at an Indiana plant for the rest of the month due to the global semiconductor chip shortage. 
  • The global semiconductor chip shortage is tightening the supply of new cars while pushing up the prices of used cars in the face of surging demand. 
  • A survey of about 800 U.S. companies shows that supply chain woes are wreaking havoc on small businesses, with 44% reporting shortages and other supply chain-related problems in March. 
  • North Dakota is offering free COVID-19 vaccinations to Canadian truckers traveling from Canada to the U.S.
  • Truck tonnage readings fell 5.1% in March, an unexpected drop likely due to supply chain issues, according to the the American Trucking Associations. 
  • Truck drivers taking goods from England to the EU will no longer need a special permit to enter the port region, a move Britain hopes will ease a current backlog of trucks and make post-Brexit trade more efficient.
  • A record of more than 100 dry bulk ships were bought and sold in March, as the market sees its highest activity in a decade. 
  • For the first time, the U.K. is adding international shipping and aviation to its master plan for a 78% cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2035. 
  • The U.S. announced plans to join the International Maritime Organization in its efforts to achieve net zero emissions in the global shipping industry by 2050.
  • 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 54,672 new COVID-19 cases and 776 deaths in the U.S. yesterday. Over 213 million vaccine doses have been administered, with 23.9% of the population fully vaccinated. 
  • About 75% of last week’s COVID-19 cases came from Michigan, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, all states that were hit hard early in the pandemic. 
  • Apple temporarily closed all six of its Michigan retail stores as the state continues to experience the nation’s worst COVID-19 resurgence.
  • Recent student test results show the learning gaps brought about by the pandemic are beginning to shrink, particularly in math, as students return to in-person classes across the country.
  • CVS will begin offering three over-the-counter COVID-19 tests at its stores and online. 
  • As COVID-19 vaccinations gain steam, fewer people are getting tested for the virus, evidenced by lower-than-expected first-quarter results for test kit maker Abbott Laboratories. 
  • Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine added $100 million to the company’s sales growth in the latest quarter, although future sales could be affected after several nations suspended use of the shots because of possible adverse side effects. 
  • Hispanic homeownership, fueled by younger buyers, grew at a record pace last year with 700,000 new households.  
  • Shares of Netflix fell 11% in after-hours trading after the company reported fewer-than-expected new paid subscribers in the first quarter, a sign that people may be spending less time cooped up inside as the economy reopens. 
  • U.S. auto retailer AutoNation nearly tripled its quarterly profit from the same time last year as consumers take advantage of low interest rates to buy vehicles and a supply chain crunch drives prices higher. The company’s CEO said the global shortage of semiconductors impacting the industry could extend for a year or longer.  
  • General Motors is planning for a post-pandemic employee landscape of more remote positions as well as more programming and marketing jobs to support its electric vehicle strategy. 
  • A recent fatal crash of a Tesla with Autopilot has revealed a regulatory gap, with little NHTSA guidance for semi-autonomous vehicles. 
  • Boeing received a small boost with a new order of 15 737 MAX jets from state-owned Dubai Aerospace Enterprise. 
  • United Airlines will repair and resume flying its Pratt & Whitney-powered Boeing 777-200 fleet that’s been grounded for two months since a dramatic engine failure. 
  • Apple introduced a refreshed product line yesterday, along with new AirTag tracking devices to help consumers find misplaced wallets, keys and other items. 
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  • IBM rode the cloud-services wave to its highest quarterly sales growth in more than two years, beating Wall Street estimates amid increased demand for network services from the retail, manufacturing and travel industries.

International

  • New COVID-19 cases have risen across the globe for eight consecutive weeks, with all regions except Europe seeing a rise in infections. 
  • India’s prime minister is requesting that states avoid shutting businesses and imposing lockdowns despite experiencing more than 200,000 new coronavirus cases a day for the past six days. The country’s healthcare system is near collapse, with hospitals turning away patients and cemeteries running out of space. 
  • The Philippines is experiencing a second COVID-19 wave, suffering more than 10,000 infections per day, overwhelmed medical resources and a lack of hospital space. 
  • Hampered by supply chain problems and a lack of coordination between federal and provincial authorities, Canada is struggling to inoculate its population and imposing new lockdown measures to curb COVID-19. 
  • As Ontario, Canada, suffers its worst COVID-19 outbreak, Toronto ordered businesses to close if they experience outbreaks involving five or more people. Aggravating the crisis, Ontario will also face at least two delayed AstraZeneca vaccine shipments
  • France will lift domestic travel restrictions on May 3 as it begins gradually lifting its lockdown.  
  • Puerto Rico will impose a $300 fine on all travelers who fail to present a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to their arrival on the island. 
  • To promote trust in COVID-19 vaccines among a skeptical population, Mexico’s president publicly received a dose of AstraZeneca’s shot
  • Israel has detected eight cases of a COVID-19 “double mutation” that first appeared in India but said Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine is at least partially effective against it.
  • Tomorrow, Mexico will permit non-essential land border crossings with the U.S. in five of its six border states, with only Chihuahua excepted. 
  • Iceland is looking to restrict access to the country to ease domestic COVID-19 restrictions. 
  • Vaccination rates in Europe are accelerating after many setbacks and delays. A new mRNA COVID-19 vaccine developed by German biotech firm CureVac is set to be evaluated and ready for use in Europe by the end of May, while the European Medicines Agency hopes to evaluate Russa’s Sputnik V vaccine by June.
  • Johnson & Johnson will resume rolling out its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine in Europe after the bloc’s medicines regulator said the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks of extremely rare blood clotting side effects. The company remains committed to supplying 200 million doses of its vaccine to the EU, Norway and Iceland.
  • An Argentinian firm has commenced production of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, a regional first.
  • International vaccine-sharing group COVAX will receive 65 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May as manufacturers outside India cleared up several production snags. 
  • The pace of China’s vaccine campaign has slowed, with a daily average of 3.3 million doses over the last week, compared to 4.2 million the week before. 
  • China’s Sinovac Biotech has supplied roughly 260 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 60% sent to countries outside China. 
  • China is beginning a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine that can be inhaled rather than injected, with experts saying that it could be more effective because the virus enters the human body through airways. 
  • Britain is spearheading a new international group to prepare for the world’s next pandemic by speeding up the development of future vaccines within 100 days of an outbreak. 
  • Global financial markets are slumping on fears that a COVID-19 resurgence in every region but Europe could stall the economic recovery. 
  • Demand from European companies for loans and credit lines fell for the third quarter in a row, a troubling sign for the bloc’s already staggering economic recovery. 
  • Australia’s economy is expected to grow at its fastest pace in more than a decade this year, driven by massive government stimulus and a mostly successful containment of COVID-19. 
  • The Chinese government is prepping new incentives that will push banks to boost financing for carbon emission cuts amid a renewed commitment toward the nation’s long-term climate goals.

Our Operations

  • Yesterday’s Plastics Reflections webinar on Driving Sustainability Action in the Plastics Industry can be viewed here.
  • 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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