COVID-19 Bulletin: February 8

February 8, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

Good Afternoon,

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Supply

  • Crude prices have reached their highest levels since the start of the pandemic, with Brent-crude futures rising more than 50% since October, hitting $60/bbl today for the first time in more than a year.
  • In late trading today, the WTI crude price was up 1.9% at $57.95/bbl, Brent was up 2.0% at $60.52/bbl, and natural gas was 0.5% higher at $2.88/MMBtu. 
  • Royal Dutch Shell reported a fourth-quarter loss of $4.5 billion, down from a profit of $871 million in the same period the previous year.
  • French oil major Total is buying four large-scale power projects plus battery storage assets in Texas, which it will use to meet the electricity demand of all its industrial U.S. sites.
  • Green energy companies are facing new competition from big oil, with BP and Total outbidding the competition to win a majority of new licenses to develop wind farms off the U.K. coast.

Supply Chain

  • Parcel-delivery, warehousing and trucking companies lost a combined 34,000 jobs in January, an abrupt halt to the sector’s hiring boom in 2020.
  • The fourth quarter was the strongest quarter ever for industrial and logistics real estate, highlighted by a 7.3% annual decline in the availability rate and an 8.3% increase in asking rates.
  • Congestion at California ports is spreading north, where 17 ships are currently queued at anchor at the port of Oakland with many other ships inbound.
  • Very Large Gas Carrier spot rates have fallen more than $80,000 per day over the last month on swelling tonnage availability. 
  • Haulage through U.K. ports has plummeted up to 68% since Brexit.
  • The Indian government is moving toward port privatization with plans for seven public-private port projects into 2022.
  • Despite low passenger demand, Korean Air posted a full-year profit of nearly $100 million on higher cargo utilization.
  • Amazon ordered 700 trucks that run on compressed natural gas as part of its quest to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2040. Amazon also plans to launch Amazon Freight Partners, a program to recruit and train delivery partners who will work exclusively for the company.
  • Logistics conditions remain strained, with trucking demand exceeding availability, continuing congestion at ports, and backlogs at warehousing and packaging facilities due in part to operating challenges related to the pandemic. Shipping containers are in short supply, with demurrage charges rising. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates.

Markets

  • There were 88,044 new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. yesterday, the first time since November with fewer than 100,000 new infections, as total infections topped 27 million.
  • Nearly 9.5% of the U.S. population has received one dose of COVID-19, while the two-week trend for daily reported cases is down 31%.
  • New COVID-19 cases at nursing homes dropped sharply last week, the fifth week in a row of declines.
  • The U.K. variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the U.S., with the number of infections doubling every week and a half.
  • AstraZeneca/Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the U.K. variant of the virus, but not so against a South African mutation as the company temporarily halted the rollout there after a clinical trial found its vaccine doesn’t appear to protect against mild and moderate illness.
  • The U.S. is unlikely to reach herd immunity from COVID-19 before the end of summer due to a shortfall in vaccine availability.
  • With the circulation of new coronavirus strains, consumers are unlikely to resume travel, dine out or shop at stores at pre-pandemic levels until later this year, frustrating businesses hoping for a return to normal.
  • The ease of COVID-19 transmission, along with the emergence of new strains, is prompting acceptance that the virus could become a perpetual societal illness such as the flu, measles and HIV.
  • Health officials are mystified why women are more susceptible to COVID-19 long-haul systems, with females comprising 82% of the 150,000 members in a prominent support group.
  • Due to conflicting data about the effectiveness of convalescent blood plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients, the FDA announced plans to gradually revoke its authorization for the remedy.
  • Congressional committees will begin working today to craft specific legislation for a broad $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package approved by Congress last week.
  • U.S. factory orders rose for the eighth straight month in January, notching a 1.1% gain compared to December’s gain of 1.3%.
  • The pandemic’s effect on state and local government budgets has turned out much smaller than expected, with a flood of federal aid helping prop up consumer spending and incomes.
  • Hiring of temporary workers rose by 80,900 positions in January as businesses saw more demand but were not confident in how long the demand would last.
  • Apple ended its talks with Hyundai Motors over collaborative development of an electric vehicle after the automaker publicly disclosed the discussions, wiping out $8.5 billion of market value from its Kia and Hyundai brands.
  • The rise of night owl workers is requiring nocturnal employees to increase their communication with team members and employers, while productivity may be going up.
  • Zoom is adapting to a hybrid work environment, adding features to facilitate a return to offices such as a remote receptionist and a tool to monitor the number of people in meeting rooms.
  • A home listed in Riverhead, New York, is the first 3D-printed house for sale in the U.S. Widescale use of the technology could reduce home-building costs by 50% or more.
  • The 3D printing filament market is projected to reach $4.4 billion by 2023, up from $1.3 billion in 2018.
  • Authorities fear yesterday’s Super Bowl, where quarterback Tom Brady won his seventh ring after leading the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 31-9 win over the defending champ Kansas City Chiefs, will lead to a new wave of COVID-19 infections as unmasked fans celebrated into the night.

International

  • Germany is likely to extend its COVID-19 lockdown for another two weeks, a highly cautious move as new cases in the nation continue to decline.
  • South Korea reported the lowest daily number of new COVID-19 cases since late November over the weekend, prompting the government to ease distancing and capacity restrictions. The nation is in talks with Moderna over construction of a $200 million vaccine manufacturing factory in the country. 
  • Those who have recovered from COVID-19 infections appear susceptible to reinfection with the South Africa variant, with 30% of South Africans infected with the new strain having antibodies from previous infections. South Africa is planning to fast-track the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine after it showed efficacy against the variant.
  • The U.K. is on track to vaccinate everyone over age 50 by May.
  • China is falling behind the U.S. and Europe in vaccine distribution, with only 2 in every 100 citizens receiving a shot, compared to 3 in the European Union, 10 in the U.S. and nearly 60 in Israel.
  • Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine received approval from the Chinese government after persistent questions about the vaccine’s efficacy and lack of completed clinical trials.
  • At least 20 countries have approved Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 shots for emergency use, a rapid turnaround from early skepticism over the vaccine that was first approved by Russia without completed trials.
  • A large-scale study in the U.K. has shown no unexpected side effects from COVID-19 vaccines, with only 0.3% of people reporting any sort of adverse reaction from the shots.
  • Researchers in Israel have developed a therapeutic that cured patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms in three to five days in preliminary testing.
  • Singapore is suspending plans to allow business travelers to avoid quarantine by staying in a dedicated facility near the airport.
  • Rolls Royce will shutter two jet engine plants for two weeks and is seeking union concessions due to the prolonged downturn in the civil aviation market.
  • Despite the collapse of commercial aviation last year, sales of private jets rose, as well-heeled buyers and businesses ventured into small jet ownership.
  • Car sales in China surged nearly 26% in January compared with the prior-year period, when the nation was in the early throes of the pandemic.
  • Electric vehicle sales made up more than a third of Volvo’s new car sales in the European Union last year, as the bloc beat out China as the world’s biggest plug-in market.

Our Operations

  • 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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