COVID-19 Bulletin: April 26

April 26, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

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Supply

  • Crude futures were mixed in mid-day trading today, with the WTI up 0.1% at $62.19/bbl and Brent 0.2% lower at $65.96/bbl. Natural gas was 1.4% higher at $2.77/MMBtu.
  • In March, U.S. oil producers raised the most financing via debt and equity issues since last August, as increasing crude prices prompt increased operations. 
  • The number of active oil and gas rigs in the U.S. decreased by one last week, bringing the total count to 438 and just 27 fewer than the same time last year. 
  • Oil-services companies Halliburton, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes each reported positive financials for the first quarter on increased demand. 
  • California’s governor halted the issuance of new fracking permits starting in 2024, as the state pushes to eliminate net greenhouse-gas emissions by 2045. 
  • Qatar Petroleum will issue up to $10 billion of bonds as soon as this quarter to fund a massive North Field natural gas project that would make the country the world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas.
  • A global focus on cleaner energy is pushing many major ocean carriers to order more ships powered by liquified natural gas, a fuel viewed as a halfway measure toward non-carbon options. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here. 

Supply Chain

  • Volkswagen is warning managers to prepare for an even bigger production hit in the second quarter from the global semiconductor shortage compared to the first quarter. 
  • The board of Kansas City Southern will open negotiations with Canadian National Railway on a competing offer made just days after Canadian Pacific Railway made a first bid for the railway. 
  • A top U.S. lawmaker overseeing transportation and infrastructure is warning about stifled competition in relation to a potential acquisition of Kansas City Southern by one of two Canadian rail suitors. 
  • Canadian Pacific’s first-quarter profit rose more than 50% on record carloads and tonnage. 
  • First-quarter profit for Union Pacific fell 8.8% as lower bulk and industrial volumes offset gains in grain and intermodal hauls. 
  • First-quarter net profit at less-than-truckload carrier Old Dominion Freight Line soared nearly 50% to $199 million on a 14.1% increase in revenue.
  • The congestion at Southern California ports is easing, with fewer than 20 ships awaiting berths to unload for the past five days.  
  • Container throughput at DP World terminals across the globe rose 10.2% in Q1 from the same time last year. 
  • 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

  • Weekend COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continued a steady decline, with 62,399 new cases Friday, just over 53,000 cases Saturday and 32,065 yesterday. 
  • Over 228 million vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S., with 26.5% of the population fully vaccinated.
  • The U.S.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is set to slow down over the coming weeks due to increased supply and reduced demand, as nearly half of Americans and most people in at-risk groups have received a shot. Health officials are warning that current levels of vaccine hesitancy could imperil the nation’s goal of achieving herd immunity. 
  • More than a quarter of Louisiana’s vaccine doses are sitting unused on shelves, while Ohio’s vaccine distribution has fallen by nearly half in just a few weeks. 
  • Seventeen counties in Arkansas have declined deliveries of more COVID-19 vaccine doses, citing reduced demand. 
  • All COVID-19 vaccination sites in New York City are now open for walk-in appointments
  • U.S. regulators cleared Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for use again after a week-long pause while investigators probed extremely rare blood-clotting side effects of the shot. 
  • Two major healthcare companies reported increased demand for surgery and other non-COVID medical care in March as virus hospitalizations tumble from early-January peaks, clearing the way for normal medical visits to resume. 
  • Pregnant women and their newborns face higher risks of complications from COVID-19 infection than previously known, new data shows. The CDC said that pregnant women should get the COVID-19 vaccine, clarifying a months-long wait for safety information on the shots’ effect on expecting mothers. 
  • Restaurants are raising pay and boosting benefits to combat a shortage of workers, as sales at bars and restaurants rose 13.4% month over month in March. 
  • Spending on travel and entertainment rose 40% in March from February, while flight bookings jumped by 50% in the first quarter, American Express reported. 
  • The White House said the growth in average hourly wages for U.S. workers could decline over the coming months, a paradoxically optimistic sign as more low-wage jobs return amid the nation’s recovery, skewing wage data downward. 
  • A purchasing managers index for the U.S. manufacturing sector increased to 60.6 in the first half of April, the highest reading since data began in 2007, indicating monthly expansion.  
  • U.S. economic growth is expected to hit 6.5% in the first quarter when data is released later this week, making it the fastest-growing economy in the West. 
  • The bounding U.S. recovery has elevated asset prices far beyond conventional markets tracked by Wall Street firms, with unprecedented gains in U.S. and global stocks, home values, lumber prices and cryptocurrencies. Lumber prices alone have jumped more than 300% year on year as home construction and improvements boom. 
  • New U.S. home sales surged 20.7% last month to a higher-than-expected annual rate of 1.021 million units, a trend boosted by an acute shortage of previously owned houses on the market. 
  • The median asking rent in the U.S.’s 50 largest markets rose 1.1% in March to $1,463, marking the first month where the pace of rent growth increased since last summer. The trend, however, is reversed in Manhattan, where median asking rents dropped roughly 17% year over year in March, prompting many residents to upgrade to larger or more luxurious apartments. 
  • Prices for industrial metals have reached their highest level in years as major world economies increase demand for cars, electronics and infrastructure. 
  • Confidence in an equipment finance market index hit 76.1, an all-time high, as pent-up demand for goods and services leads companies to expand their capital budgets. 
  • Huggies and Cottonelle maker Kimberly-Clark posted an 8% decline in first-quarter sales, its sharpest drop in a decade, as last year’s pandemic hoarding reduced recent demand.  
  • Roughly two-thirds of Americans are interested in electric vehicles, spurred by a recent $174 billion investment plan launched by the White House.
  • Honda announced a new goal of selling only electric vehicles in North America by 2040, further signs on an industry shifting priorities away from gas-powered engines. 
  • Google’s parent company is changing its bonus program for senior executives in 2022 to more closely tie pay to progress in supporting environmental, social and governance goals. 

International

  • COVID-19 cases across the globe are at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic, with more than 5.6 million new cases reported over the past week, more than double the level from mid-February. The global seven-day average of new cases hit 774,404 on Sunday, a jump of 15% over the last two weeks. 
  • The first 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given across the world, just 143 days after the U.K. became the first nation to approve a shot. 
  • India is reeling under the worst COVID-19 surge of the pandemic globally:
    • The nation reported 352,991 new cases today, the fifth consecutive day above 300,000 and a new global record for one-day infections. 
    • The nation’s hospitals have resorted to turning away patients due to a crush of people hospitalized with COVID-19. 
    • The U.S. and the EU have announced they will send aid to the country in the form of funding, medical supplies and raw materials for vaccine production.  
    • Recent projections that the nation would experience the quickest recovery among major world economies are being downgraded
    • A recent COVID-19 mutation discovered in India, dubbed a “double mutation,” is thought to be more contagious than the original version of the virus and has spread rapidly through the country.
    • Bangladesh has closed its border with India for the next two weeks in an effort to stop the spread of a “double mutant” variant, while Italy has joined a list of countries imposing a travel ban from the nation.
  • Brazil has suffered 67,977 COVID-19 fatalities so far in April, making it the deadliest month of the pandemic. Brazil’s Health Ministry is concerned about the country’s vaccination program, reporting 1.5 million people missing scheduled appointments for their second vaccination. 
  • Ontario, Canada, reported a record 851 critical COVID-19 cases needing ICUs on Sunday, a 156% jump from last month, with nearly 600 patients on ventilators. 
  • Even with the best of precautions, COVID-19 is liable to spread during plane travel, with more than a third of passengers becoming infected on a recent flight from India to Hong Kong. 
  • German officials expect the nation’s first country-wide lockdown to last until June, as COVID-19 infections rose over the weekend despite restrictions. 
  • More than half of U.K. residents have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • European regulators ruled that the benefits of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the risks of serious adverse reactions to the shots.
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in France remain at an unusually high level of nearly 6,000 even as the country prepares to exit its third national lockdown on May 3. 
  • The Philippines became the 26th country to surpass 1 million COVID-19 infections.  
  • The Japanese government is preparing to open large vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka in the coming weeks to speed up its inoculation drive prior to the summer Olympics. 
  • Despite early success in containing COVID-19, a bubble of cases is cropping up in Thailand, which recently reported a one-day infection record. The nation’s capital has closed public venues and sports premises while joining 39 other provinces in making masks mandatory. 
  • Cambodia closed all markets in its capitol over the weekend due to rising COVID-19 cases, leaving thousands of people pleading with the government for food as a two-week lockdown continues.
  • The EU is set to open it doors this summer to U.S. tourists who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, breaking with a more than one-year ban on nonessential travel from most countries. 
  • Index data shows China’s economy continued to boom in April from record growth in the first quarter, as increased exports and business confidence support the nation’s recovery. 
  • COVID-19 vaccine makers Moderna and GlaxoSmithKline are warning that a rising trend of nationalism among countries could disrupt the vaccine supply chain and slow the world’s rollout.
  • Slow vaccine rollouts in low- and middle-income nations are expected to cause unprecedented growth in the divide between rich and poor nations in the second quarter. 
  • The euro zone economy is not expected to return to its pre-pandemic size until the second half of next year, as the bloc’s central bank plans to keep aggressive monetary stimulus in place even after the U.S. begins winding down its own. 
  • China’s Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou was the world’s busiest hub during the pandemic, overtaking the two-decade reign of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International.  
  • Mexican airline Grupo AeroMexico is purchasing 24 of Boeing’s 737-8 and B737-9 MAX planes and four 787-9 Dreamliners. 
  • Alstom will debut Europe’s first hydrogen-powered passenger trains on regional routes in Germany next March. 
  • A German utility is opening the country’s largest electric vehicle fast-charging park, allowing charging times of five minutes for a range of over 60 miles.  

Our Operations

  • M. Holland is the headline sponsor for AMI’s Thermoplastic Concentrates & Masterbatch Virtual Summit on April 26-29. For registered attendees, stop by M. Holland’s virtual booth to speak with our experts.
  • 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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