COVID-19 Bulletin: April 29

April 29, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

Hello,

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Supply

  • Oil futures closed at six-week highs yesterday. Crude futures were higher in mid-day trading today, with the WTI up 1.2% at $64.60/bbl and Brent 1.3% higher at $68.14/bbl. Natural gas was 2.4% lower at $2.89/MMBtu. 
  • Labor negotiations between Exxon Mobil and the United Steelworkers ended without an agreement, threatening a company lock out of 600 workers at its Beaumont, Texas, plant beginning Saturday.
  • U.S. auto suppliers told lawmakers they oppose any planned end date for the sale of new gas-powered vehicles despite the country’s quickening shift to electric vehicles. 
  • Thirteen U.S. refineries far exceeded federal emissions standards for cancer-causing benzene in 2020, according to EPA data in a report by the Environmental Integrity Project. 
  • With the support of many big oil companies, the U.S. Senate voted to restore methane emission rules that were relaxed last summer.
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here. 

Supply Chain

  • Ford beat Wall Street earnings expectations in the first quarter while cautioning that up to 50% of planned second-quarter production could be lost due to a shortage of semiconductors. 
  • Honda will idle three plants in Japan for up to six days in May due to the global semiconductor chip shortage.
  • Auto parts maker Dana Inc. warned that customers may see higher costs due to the global chip shortage.
  • Taiwan chipmaker United Microelectronics will spend $3.6 billion over the next three years to expand capacity and guarantee supplies and prices to its clients. 
  • Trade ministers from Japan, India and Australia met to discuss forming the “Supply Chain Resilience Initiative,” a trade alliance meant to counter China’s growing economic dominance in the region.
  • Amazon plans to grow its network of delivery stations to 506 locations in 2021, potentially allowing the company’s in-house delivery fleet to reach every corner of the nation. 
  • The traditionally prominent “boom and bust” cycle in the trucking industry is set to disappear at least for the next year, as sustained demand for consumer goods keeps carriers busier than ever. 
  • C.H. Robinson Worldwide posted its best quarter in five years, more than doubling profit to $173.3 million as gross revenue jumped 26.3% to $4.8 billion.
  • Capacity at most Asian shipyards to produce large tankers and other vessels is mostly booked until 2024.
  • 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 55,125 new COVID-19 cases and 959 deaths in the U.S. yesterday. Over 234 million vaccine doses have been administered with 27.4% of the population fully vaccinated. 
  • Fifteen counties in the Pacific Northwest have been designated as “extreme risks” for COVID-19 as the region experiences a resurgence in infections and hospitalizations. 
  • California has recorded nearly 1,400 cases of coronavirus infections in people who were fully vaccinated, making up roughly 0.1% of the total number of cases from January to April. 
  • New data from the CDC show Pfizer’s and Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are 94% effective in preventing virus hospitalizations in those 65 years and older. 
  • New research suggests an unvaccinated person is protected against re-infection with COVID-19 for at least seven months after first getting the virus. 
  • COVID-19 vaccines cut the likelihood of intra-household transmission of the virus in half, according to a new study. 
  • Nine in 10 Americans who have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are returning for their second dose
  • North Carolina is dropping its outdoor mask mandate and increasing gathering limits beginning tomorrow as it gradually eases restrictions. 
  • Maryland’s governor lifted the state’s outdoor mask mandate, with the exception for large-scale events, citing new guidance issued by the CDC. 
  • New York’s curfew on bars and restaurants will end next month, as the state continues to loosen pandemic restrictions amid declining virus cases. New York’s mayor announced plans to reopen the city at full capacity on July 1. 
  • The U.S. is roughly 13 percentage points away from seeing a breakthrough in the return to normal life, the nation’s top infectious disease expert said, as roughly 37% of adult Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • The White House is easing restrictions on Chinese and other students traveling to the U.S. this fall, a move likely to quell pandemic enrollment declines. 
  • The $20-$30 price of at-home COVID-19 test kits could pose a barrier to those looking to get tested for the infection every week or so, health officials warn. 
  • The Atlanta Braves are set to resume normal seating capacity beginning May 7, the first major U.S. sports team to do so. 
  • Roughly 26% of office workers in major cities were back at their desks as of April 21, the highest share in about five months as demand for office space begins to pick back up. 
  • New York City lost nearly $1.2 billion in tax revenue after spending in the city’s all-important tourist industry fell 73% last year. 
  • The U.S. economy surged in the first quarter, growing 6.4% for the first three months of the year on an annualized basis, up from 4.3% from Q4. 
  • For the second week in a row, first-time jobless claims fell to a pandemic low of 553,000.  
  • The U.S. trade deficit in goods jumped to a record high in March, as pent-up demand drew record imports.
  • The chairman of the Federal Reserve upgraded its assessment of the U.S. economic rebound while indicating it will continue asset purchases and near-zero interest rates. 
  • Households that received the latest round of U.S. stimulus checks plan to spend just under a quarter of it on consumption, using the other 75% to pay down debt or increase savings, the Federal Reserve said. 
  • Airlines are using the pandemic flying slump to refocus their attention on markets not yet dominated by a single carrier, including Austin, Boston and North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham region. 
  • Uber is launching new services allowing U.S. customers to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments and to reserve and have rental cars delivered to a customer’s door. 
  • Federal housing regulators Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveiled new programs to help households lock in existing record-low interest rates, targeting lower-income borrowers who have missed out on the past year’s refinancing boom. 
  • Boeing posted its sixth consecutive quarterly loss in addition to halting new deliveries of its 737 MAX jet after electrical problems re-grounded part of the fleet. GDC, a subcontractor that supplies parts for Air Force One, filed for bankruptcy after Boeing canceled its contracts. 
  • Apple beat analysts’ expectations while nearly doubling sales to China but warned that the computer chip shortage could dent iPad and Mac sales in the next quarter. 
  • Facebook’s revenue surged 48% amid more digital ad spending and higher ad prices as people primarily shopped online.
  • U.S. auto sales in April are expected to reach 1.5 million units, up 107.1% from the same time last year for a new monthly record. 
  • Toyota will invest over $800 million in a new assembly plant in Indiana, hinting that at least one of the two SUVs produced there will be an electric vehicle. 
  • General Motors is partnering with seven companies to build a network of 60,000 electric vehicle charging points across the U.S. and Canada. 
  • Ford announced plans to develop and make its own lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. 
  • Volvo Trucks predicts heavy-duty electric trucks could account for half its sales in some markets within a decade. 
  • Breakthroughs by microbiologists point to a way that bacteria can stick together to capture microplastics in polluted water, forming an easily disposable and recyclable blob. 
  • Fast-food chain Wendy’s announced plans to stop using PFAS chemicals in its consumer-facing packaging at both its U.S. and Canada locations by the end of 2021.

International

Our Operations

  • 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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