COVID-19 Bulletin: December 3

December 3, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

More news relevant to the plastics industry:

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Supply

  • After a volatile day of trading, oil prices rose about 1% Thursday even as OPEC+ surprised markets by keeping plans to release 400,000 bpd of crude in January. Futures continued rising in late morning trading, with WTI up 1.6% at $67.53/bbl and Brent up 2.1% at $71.10/bbl. U.S. natural gas was 3.5% higher at $4.20/MMBtu. 
  • OPEC added 350,000 bpd to its output in November, roughly 40% more than planned, driven by an excess of production in Iraq and a recovery in Nigeria. The output was higher than indicated by an earlier survey of OPEC members. 
  • The U.S. and other nations may delay recently announced releases of crude from their strategic oil reserves depending on oil prices.  
  • Goldman Sachs forecast Brent crude to average $85/bbl in 2023. 
  • In a bid to avoid another “Texas Freeze,” state utilities must prioritize key natural gas facilities that supply fuel to electric generators during emergencies, Texas’ energy regulator ruled. 
  • The value of the U.S.-Canada energy trade fell 31% in 2020, driven by demand drops and lower commodity prices during the first year of the pandemic. 
  • European energy majors have doubled planned spending on low-carbon energy over the last two years, led by Spain’s Repsol. 
  • Prices for European carbon futures rose above $90/ton Friday, almost tripling so far this year to a new record.  
  • BP has agreed to more than $500,000 in fines for emissions violations at an Indiana facility. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.

Supply Chain

  • A benchmark index of contracted container freight rates grew 16.3% in November for a year-over-year gain of 121.2%. 
  • Ocean freight rates from Asia to both U.S. coasts have fallen to their lowest levels since July, declining a respective 3.8% and 4.9% for routes to Los Angeles and New York last week. 
  • Port freight feeders in Southern China plan to extend their Chinese New Year suspensions by six weeks under state-mandated COVID-19 quarantine measures, potentially further disrupting global supply chains. 
  • Maersk had 84 vessels waiting an average of 18 days outside ports at the end of last week, led by backups on the U.S. West Coast.
  • Some seafarers are being forced to get several COVID-19 vaccinations to meet differing country rules. 
  • Trucking experts say California’s efforts to raise truck weight limits will do little to remedy shipping backlogs. 
  • Airfreight volumes fell a surprising 1.2% in November, largely due to ground handling congestion, while rates rose 8% for the period. 
  • Global shipping lines are on track to pull in $100 billion in operating profit this year, already doubling profit in just three quarters of 2021 compared to the entirety of the previous decade. 
  • Mediterranean Shipping Company surpassed Maersk as the world’s largest shipping line, fueled by its record acquisition of 125 used vessels during the pandemic. 
  • The U.S. administration sued to block Nvidia’s proposed landmark takeover of semiconductor designer Arm Holdings, citing antitrust concerns.
  • Chipmaker GlobalFoundries swung to third-quarter profit on a 56% rise in revenue from last year. 
  • The long-awaited abandonment of 25% U.S. tariffs on British steel and aluminum is being delayed over suspected political issues. 
  • Airbus is unlikely to meet its goal of delivering 600 jets this year over supply chain snags at facilities in Hamburg, Germany. 
  • Sustainable apparel retailer Allbirds managed to boost inventories 55% heading into the holiday season, citing a combination of supplier diversification and dual sourcing of products. 
  • Business is booming for cargo salvage companies amid record amounts of abandoned goods at ports. 
  • Singapore-based Samudera Shipping Line opened a new freight shuttle service with India, with plans to transport 3,800 TEUs weekly.
  • Singapore carrier X-Press Feeders has commissioned eight 1,170-TEU ships capable of running on conventional fuel or green methanol. 
  • Supply chain snarls dampened third-quarter profit at grocery giant Kroger, despite rising sales year over year. 
  • Ashley Furniture’s transport unit will expand operations in the western U.S. with the acquisition of Missouri-based Wilson Logistics. 
  • Siemens’ rail unit is testing hydrogen-powered trains as a potential replacement for battery-only locomotives with significantly shorter ranges. 
  • South Korea leads the world in electric vehicle infrastructure, with two public charging points for every one vehicle:
Electric Cars But No Chargers?
  • For a partial list of automotive disruptions caused by semiconductor and component shortages, click here.

Domestic Markets

International Markets

  • The COVID-19 Omicron variant could be three times more likely than other variants to reinfect, according to researchers in South Africa, where new infections doubled in a single day yesterday and tripled over the past three days. Omicron is spreading in Gauteng Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, faster than any prior variant.
  • European researchers predict the COVID-19 Omicron variant will make up more than half of the continent’s new infections within several months. 
  • France and Spain recorded their first cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant Thursday. They were joined by GreeceFinlandSingapore and Norway, which reported at least 50 cases. 
  • The U.K. reported 53,945 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, the most in four months, including seven more cases of the Omicron variant. The nation purchased more than 100 million doses of vaccines for the next two years. 
  • Germany imposed a nationwide lockdown exclusively on unvaccinated people, barring them from all but essential businesses such as groceries and pharmacies. Lawmakers continue to push for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the general population
  • Croatia will impose fines on local government leaders who fail to enforce proof-of-vaccine requirements.
  • Slovakia will pay $570 to seniors who get their first COVID-19 vaccination or a booster dose.
  • South Korea reported 5,266 COVID-19 cases Thursday, its second daily record in a row. 
  • China’s latest COVID-19 outbreak grew by 53 cases Thursday. Beijing approved plans to resume quarantine-free travel with Hong Kong later this month.  
  • The United Nations’ ask for global humanitarian aid has ballooned more than 40% during the pandemic. 
  • India’s economy grew a lower-than-expected 8.4% in October on a weak rebound in consumer spending. 
  • British demand for fully electric vehicles grew 86% in 2021 from the previous year:
Surging Growth in UK Electric Car Demand
  • Shares of Boeing rose 7.5% Thursday after China outlined new safety regulations for Boeing 737 MAX jets to resume flying. 
  • India’s Jet Airways is in talks with Boeing and Airbus to purchase more than 100 narrow body jets in a projected $12 billion deal. 
  • Aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney unveiled its new engine for a line of Airbus jets capable of boosting fuel efficiency by 1% and thrust by 4% when it rolls out in 2024. 
  • China’s Chengtun Mining Group will invest $245 million for its second nickel manufacturing site in Indonesia, a bid to start producing the key electric vehicle battery metal at scale.  

At M. Holland

  • 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.

For all COVID-19 updates and notices, please refer to the M. Holland website.

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