COVID-19 Bulletin: April 29
April 29, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19
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- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- India reported a record one-day surge of 379,257 new COVID-19 cases and 3,645 virus deaths, the highest of any country during the pandemic. The virus has taken the lives of more than 200,000 Indian citizens, the fourth-highest behind the U.S., Brazil and Mexico. Regional and global corporate giants, such as Amazon, are stepping in to supply funds and medical resources to the nation.
- The U.S. State Department issued a Level 4 travel advisory for India, its highest, warning citizens “not to travel to India or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so.”
- Over the past week, more than 1.4 million people became infected with COVID-19 and over 36,000 died in the Americas, as a regional health organization raised alarms.
- A study of random blood samples taken in Mexico between February-December 2020 shows that up to one-third of the country’s population may have been exposed to COVID-19.
- Romania and the Philippines became the 26th and 27th nations to log more than one million COVID-19 infections.
- Despite COVID-19 cases lessening, the Philippines is extending its monthlong lockdown by an additional two weeks, hoping to continue to curb the virus’ spread.
- Thailand is increasing its mandatory quarantine period for travelers to two weeks, a major setback for the country’s tourism industry.
- A COVID-19 strain first discovered in India has been found in 17 countries, according to the World Health Organization.
- A highly infectious coronavirus variant from Brazil has now been detected in 30 countries.
- Moderna is planning to increase its COVID-19 vaccine production, with plans of producing up to 3 billion doses in 2022.
- Seven in 10 British adults have antibodies to COVID-19, as the vaccine rollout continues while more people become infected.
- BioNTech’s CEO, noting that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine’s efficacy drops from 95% to 91% after six months, said recipients probably will need a third booster shot after 12 months.
- The U.K. will buy 60 million more doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to be used as booster shots administered later this year.
- Britain also announced plans to use a government app as its COVID-19 passport, allowing citizens to travel internationally this summer. London’s Heathrow Airport has lost $3.4 billion during the pandemic, including a first quarter loss of $459 million, down 91% compared to the first quarter of 2019.
- Lufthansa cut its scheduling plans for the remainder of the year, only expecting to utilize 40% of its pre-pandemic capacity as new COVID-19 cases continue to take its toll on the industry.
- Pakistan recorded more than 200 one-day COVID-19 deaths, a record, as the nation watches the infection surge in neighboring India with growing concern.
- Spain will reopen its borders to international travelers in June under a new scheme to use digital health certificates to track a person’s vaccination status.
- Thanks to its small size and U.K.-supplied vaccines, Gibraltar is one of few places in the world to have vaccinated almost all of its population.
- Athletes competing in Japan’s Olympic Games this summer will need to take daily coronavirus tests, as the Games’ governing body steps up precautions. Under the stricter rules, athletes must wear face masks at all times except when eating, drinking, sleeping, training or competing. Japan’s top medical adviser urged caution about going forward with the Games, citing the likely strain on the country’s medical system.
- The U.K. is sending thousands of people to a mass nightclub rave this week to test whether live events halted during the pandemic can reopen at full capacity.
- Nearly all of the world’s 220,000 glaciers are losing mass at an accelerated pace, a new comprehensive study shows.
- 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.
We will provide further COVID-19 bulletins as circumstances dictate. For all COVID-19 updates and notices, please refer to the M. Holland website.