COVID-19 Bulletin: August 9

August 9, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

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Supply

  • Oil futures dipped to their lowest levels since May on demand concerns after China renewed COVID-19 restrictions. In midday trading, WTI was down 3.3% at $66.05/bbl and Brent was off 2.9% at $68.65/bbl. Natural gas was 2.3% lower at $4.05/MMBtu.
  • Saudi Aramco posted a nearly fourfold increase in second-quarter profit Sunday, a result of a 35% rise in oil prices year to date and economic activity rebounding as nations reopened. 
  • Energy prices for U.K. residents are expected to surge in October when a regulatory price ceiling is raised 13% higher amid soaring global gas prices. 
  • Fuel demand in China could increase 11% to 8.9 million bpd this year, an all-time high, as the country’s car sales and air travel rebound from the pandemic. The nation’s crude imports surged in July from a six-month low, topping 41.2 million tonnes as several state-owned refineries returned from maintenance. 
  • Higher crude prices helped push the value of India’s oil imports to $24.7 billion in the first quarter of 2021, up 190% from the same time last year on a 14.7% volume increase.  
  • A fire at Pemex’s largest refinery was quickly extinguished Saturday without disruption to the 330,000-bpd facility’s operations. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • California’s Dixie Fire surged to more than 463,477 acres over the weekend, making it the second-largest wildfire in the state’s history and the largest currently burning in the U.S. Containment of the blaze was just 21% Sunday. 
  • Denver recorded the worst air quality of any major global city for several hours Saturday, a result of smoke from 107 wildfires currently burning more than 2.1 million acres of western land.
  • Wildfires spread uncontrolled for a fifth straight day in Greece Sunday, prompting thousands of evacuations amid the country’s worst heat wave in 30 years. 
  • Power demand in Texas could reach its highest levels of 2021 this week on forecasts of an extreme heat wave set to last until Aug. 17.
  • China’s export and import growth slowed in July, a result of regional authorities imposing lockdowns to stem a rise in COVID-19 cases.
  • Shipping giant Maersk closed deals to acquire two e-commerce companies last week, part of plans to boost its land-based logistics services. 
  • Under Armour is warning of product cancellations in the second half of 2021, with supply shortages, port congestion and container availability slowing the company’s production from Vietnam. 
  • U.S. Class I railroads transported nearly 2 million carload and intermodal units in July, a 3.8% increase from the same time last year but smaller than year-over-year increases of recent months.

Markets

  • The U.S. reported 107,143 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, with the seven-day average topping 100,000 for the first time since the winter surge, as top health officials continue to warn about an alarming rise of new infections throughout the country. 
  • COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. jumped 15% last week, with 68% of Americans having now received at least one dose of a shot. About 90 million eligible people have yet to receive one, as top health officials and civic leaders increasingly endorse vaccine mandates at the local level. 
  • Florida reported more than 134,000 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, a pandemic high, including three straight days of record-breaking daily infections approaching 24,000. Some of the state’s largest school districts imposed new mask mandates for returning students, a direct violation of the governor’s recent orders banning the measure, while many Florida hospitals are beyond capacity and virus patients occupy 43% of ICU beds statewide.  
  • At least 250 children are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Florida, evidencing the Delta variant’s outsized impact on younger people compared to previous virus waves. 
  • COVID-19 cases in New York City are up 70% from two weeks prior, with all five boroughs now considered “high transmission” areas by the CDC. New York City is urging parents to vaccinate their children with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine before school begins in September as statewide hospitalizations from the virus have surged 230% over the last month.
  • A U.K. study found that 9.8% of 2- to 11-year-olds and 13% of 12- to 16-year-olds infected with COVID-19 reported “long-haul” symptoms five weeks later.
  • The head of the U.S.’s second largest teacher’s union endorsed mandatory vaccinations for educators to protect students. 
  • Texas’s seven-day average for new COVID-19 infections surged 92% last week from the week prior, as emergency rooms in Houston and Austin met or exceeded their maximum capacity of available hospital beds. 
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. South are approaching or exceeding pandemic highs, as regional medical facilities strain under the volume of virus patients on mechanical ventilators:
Hospitals Fill Up Again in Undervaccinated U.S. States
  • Authorities in California’s San Francisco Bay Area are monitoring multiple new infections of the “Delta-Plus” COVID-19 variant, after 46 cases were reported in Santa Clara County. Roughly 19% of the state’s recent virus cases have been breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated people, new data suggests:
Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases Remain Rare In The U.S.
  • Relative to its small population, Arkansas is experiencing one of the nation’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks, with hospitalizations up fourfold the last month amid persistently low vaccination rates of just 42%
  • Hawaii reported 643 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, its fourth straight day of infections topping 600, as the state’s virus positivity rate rose to 7.11%. 
  • Hundreds of thousands of bikers descended on South Dakota to take part in the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally, with officials predicting a surge of COVID-19 following the festivities. 
  • The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 has companies rethinking their reopening plans, with many pushing back return-to-office dates and planned business travel, while more cities are scrapping scheduled events. 
  • Organizers canceled the New Orleans Jazz Fest, scheduled for October, for the second straight year. 
  • Amazon issued a new mandate requiring all employees to wear masks regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. 
  • Tesla announced that it will require employees at its Nevada battery factory to begin masking today regardless of their vaccination status. 
  • New Jersey will require all students to wear masks indoors when schools reopen in the fall. 
  • A rise in COVID-19 vaccine mandates across the U.S. and EU have given rise to counterfeiters producing forged vaccine certificates.
  • Despite fewer cars and trucks driving during the pandemic, U.S. highway deaths rose to their highest levels in a decade last year, a result of faster average speeds and increased incidents of driving under the influence. 
  • The U.S. faces a job gap of 1.3 million, with 10 million job openings and just 8.7 million unemployed people.
  • The share of big U.S. firms beating quarterly profit expectations is on a record pace, alleviating concerns that real-world financial earnings cannot keep up with the pace of the stock market. 
  • Flush money-market funds and banks are putting up to $1 trillion nightly in Federal Reserve repo and reverse repo markets, the most on record and a potential precursor to short-term lending disruption.
  • Pressure is building to address practical roadblocks — including a lack of charging infrastructure and tax incentives — following last week’s non-binding White House order calling for electric vehicles to comprise 50% of U.S. car and light truck sales by 2030. 
  • Norwegian Cruise Line, which plans to return to full capacity by April 2022, reported a narrower-than-expected loss of $717.8 million in the second quarter, while a federal court granted the company’s request for an injunction blocking a Florida law banning vaccine passports for passengers.
  • Princess Cruises announced it will require passengers to wear masks and provide a negative COVID-19 test to board its vessels. 
  • Low-cost air carrier Spirit Airlines says it expects to cancel hundreds more flights this week amid continued staffing shortages and weather disruptions. The company canceled more than 1,700 flights last week.  

International

  • After five straight days of COVID-19 infections topping 4,000, cases in Tokyo dropped below 3,000 for the first time in seven days following the conclusion of the 2020 Olympics, while Japan reported its first known case of the “Lambda” variant. 
  • Australia’s three largest states reported a combined 361 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, an all-time high, alongside 282 new infections Sunday, with widespread lockdowns remaining for most of the nation’s population. 
  • Brazil surpassed 20 million total COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, the third-highest globally behind the U.S. and India. 
  • Britain’s COVID-19 reproduction factor slipped below 1 last week, suggesting a recent surge in infections is shrinking. The nation reported 27,244 new COVID-19 infections and 45 deaths Sunday. 
  • Six EU countries — Malta, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Denmark and Ireland — have surpassed the U.K.’s 57.3% full-vaccination rate for its population, formerly a global high. 
  • Roughly 60% of EU residents have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine compared to just 58% in the U.S., a stark reversal from the U.S.’s initial speedier inoculation campaign:
The Race Towards Full Vaccination
  • New research from the U.K. suggests fully vaccinated people may be able to transmit the COVID-19 Delta variant just as easily as those who are not vaccinated. 
  • Italy introduced a digital COVID-19 health pass that residents must use to access a wide range of social activities, from indoor dining to museums. 
  • France expanded enforcement of its digital health pass, now required to access cafes, restaurants and trains.  
  • Japanese drugmaker Shionogi will seek approval for its oral COVID-19 treatment by the end of the year, hoping to treat patients with mild to moderate symptoms and prevent hospitalizations. 
  • The EU’s drug regulator says it has not found a link between COVID-19 vaccines and menstrual disorders, while also reporting there is not yet enough data to warrant recommendation of a third COVID-19 booster shot. 
  • The World Food Programme projects that 270 million people could face life-threatening food shortages this year, up from 150 million people in 2019, highlighting how the pandemic has accelerated global poverty and food supply disruptions. 
  • Available airline seats globally fell 6.5% last week and available seats in China plunged 32% as governments imposed new travel restrictions to counter the surging Delta variant of COVID-19.  
  • Without more government aid, British airlines are warning of thousands of additional job losses as the nation’s travel industry continues to struggle due to the pandemic. 
  • The United Nations released a damaging report on climate change and urged all nations to end carbon emissions by 2050.
  • Russia has begun laying undersea fiber optic cable through the Arctic as part of a state-run project to bring high-speed internet to the nation’s hydrocarbon-rich north region by 2026. 

Our Operations

  • With the recent widespread and rapid spike in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in the U.S., M. Holland is scaling back participation in this week’s MD&M West conference. Our first and foremost priority is protecting the health of our Mployees and business partners. While we will maintain a booth presence, we will be canceling our reception and meetings outside the conference.
  • 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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