COVID-19 Bulletin: July 15

July 15, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

More news relevant to the plastics industry:

Some sources linked are subscription services.

Supply

  • Oil prices fell more than 2% Wednesday after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates reached a compromise in their stalemate over OPEC+ production quotas, likely paving the way for a production increase from the cartel in the months ahead. Natural gas followed oil, falling roughly 1% for the day to a one-week low
  • Energy futures were lower in morning trading, with WTI down 0.4% to $72.83/bbl and Brent down 0.5% to $74.39/bbl. Natural gas was 0.3% higher at $3.65/MMBtu.
  • The share of the oil and gas industry in Russia’s economy dropped from 19.2% in 2019 to just 15% last year. 
  • A lightning strike took out power at LyondellBasell’s Lake Charles, Louisiana, complex, disrupting production for up to 10 days. 
  • Exxon Mobil is hiring more temporary workers at a refinery in Beaumont, Texas, as a lock out of 650 employees stretched into its 11th week. 
  • U.S. coal production in 2020 dropped to just 535 million short tons, its lowest level since 1965 and a 24% decrease from 2019.
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • Sixty-seven large fires have burned more than 917,000 acres across 12 U.S. states, engulfing about 1,434 square miles of acreage. 
  • Oregon and Washington state have moved into their highest level of wildfire preparedness, with the nation’s largest active blaze scorching more than 212,000 acres in Southern Oregon. 
  • For the second time in two weeks, Canadian National Railway suspended operations in parts of British Columbia as a result of wildfires. 
  • Union Pacific will suspend international shipments from the West Coast to its Global IV terminal in Chicago for a week starting Sunday to clear a backlog of cargo caused by labor and equipment shortages.  
  • Maersk was forced to shut down its depots, warehouses and cold stores in Durban and Johannesburg, South Africa, following increased civil unrest and looting. 
  • South Carolina’s Port of Charleston reported a record fiscal year 2021, handling 2.6 million twenty-foot containers, a 9.6% volume increase from fiscal year 2020.
  • Supply shortages in the chemical industry increased over the last quarter, with roughly 85% of distributors reporting at least one out-of-stock imported item, up from 47% in March. 
  • Lumber prices continue to fall, with futures ending Wednesday at $521.40 per thousand board feet, down almost 70% from record highs in May. 
  • Stellantis announced more facility shutdowns due to the global semiconductor shortage, including the Detroit assembly plant where it makes the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango. 
  • Taiwan’s TSMC reported record quarterly sales while warning that overall semiconductor supply tightness could extend into next year. 
  • South Korean chipmaker SK Siltron will invest $300 million in Bay County, Michigan, to expand silicon wafer manufacturing and support the production of electric vehicles in the U.S.
  • Businesses are seeing higher levels of fake semiconductor chips as fraudsters take advantage of the global shortage. 
  • Walmart-owned e-commerce platform Flipkart announced that it has eliminated single-use plastic packaging from its fulfillment centers in India. 
  • Our logistics team reports that bulk trucking firms are often declining to book long-haul, out of network loads due to extreme capacity constraints.
  • Logistics conditions remain strained, with trucking demand exceeding availability and continued congestion at ports primarily due to increased volume of ships and containers. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates.

Markets

  • The U.S. reported 31,845 new COVID-19 cases and 331 deaths Wednesday.
  • New COVID-19 cases have risen in 46 states this week from last, with 31 states seeing increases of more than 50%. Virus hospitalizations are increasing in younger people, with fewer than half of 18- to 24-year-olds vaccinated.
  • U.S. vaccination rates are beginning to lag those of other countries:
The Race Towards Full Vaccination
  • Rural areas with low vaccination rates are a major driver of rising COVID-19 infections in the U.S., with Arkansas and Missouri accounting for 10% of the nation’s new cases last week. 
  • Mississippi officials are urging residents to wear masks again and avoid large, contagious crowds, while Missouri is requesting funds to build a “pop-up” hospital for rising COVID-19 hospitalizations. 
  • Five states (Missouri, Nevada, Colorado, California and New Jersey) account for the highest proportion of U.S. COVID-19 Delta variant cases. 
  • New York City’s COVID-19 test positivity rate doubled from 0.6% to 1.3% the past week on higher cases of the Delta variant. The city joined California in imposing mask mandates for students and teachers returning in the fall. 
  • All of Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are among unvaccinated people, officials report. The county has reported more than 1,000 new infections per day for the past five days.
  • New COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to rise on higher infections in younger, unvaccinated people
  • New COVID-19 cases in Georgia rose by 143% over the past two weeks. 
  • Ohio will launch a second COVID-19 vaccine incentive program that could spread smaller cash payments to more people than the state’s previous million-dollar lottery system. 
  • New data shows more than a quarter of people infected with COVID-19 still had “long-haul” symptoms six to eight months later, particularly fatigue, shortness of breath and depression. 
  • Health groups are calling on medical facilities to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for employees. 
  • Roughly 65% of Asian Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the most vaccinated population in the U.S.
  • Roughly one-fifth of Americans initially skeptical about COVID-19 vaccines later changed their mind and received one. 
  • After success with its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna is looking to develop new mRNA vaccines to combat the flu, Zika, HIV and cancer. 
  • There were 360,000 first-time jobless claims in the U.S. last week, down from 386,000 the prior week and a pandemic low.  
  • Roughly 1.8 million out-of-work Americans turned down jobs due to enhanced unemployment benefits offered during the pandemic, a new poll suggests.
  • Economists at Goldman Sachs say the rapidly spreading Delta variant will have only a modest impact on consumer spending. 
  • U.S. federal taxing ($3 trillion) and spending ($5 trillion) surged to new records in the first nine months of fiscal year 2021. 
  • Consumer debt surged to $14.6 trillion in the first three months of 2021, driven mostly by auto loans and mortgages. 
  • The Federal Reserve expects inflation levels to remain high in the coming months before leveling off as pandemic-related bottlenecks and other supply constraints begin to ease. The central bank noted strong job gains for lower-skilled occupations in July. 
  • Several major U.S. banks reported second quarter earnings Wednesday:
    • Wells Fargo’s revenue rose 11% from a year ago to its highest level since before the pandemic, making it the only top-four U.S. bank to report a revenue increase. 
    • Bank of America missed analysts’ revenue predictions, a result of continued low interest rates, but the firm’s profit more than doubled year over year. 
    • Similarly, Citigroup reported a 12% decline in revenue from the same time last year despite more than doubling profit to $6.2 billion for the quarter. 
  • Fatal drug overdoses increased roughly 30% from 2019 to 2020, highlighting how the pandemic suppressed efforts to stop the spread of opioids in the U.S.
U.S. Once Again Sees More Overdose Deaths
  • Electric vehicle (EV) registrations rose 11% in 2020, despite a steep drop in overall vehicle sales, while EV sales increased 95% year over year in the four months ended April 2021, compared with a 36% increase for the overall car market. 
  • Electric vehicles are poised for exponential growth across the globe over the next decade:
Electric Vehicle Market to Hit Ludicrous Mode
  • Maine became the first state to pass an extended producer responsibility law for packaging, with fees going to local governments to encourage reuse and recycling and incentivize the use of sustainable materials. 

International

  • Nearly half of residents in Indonesia’s capital have likely contracted COVID-19, more than 12 times the number of cases officially recorded. The nation reported a record 56,757 new infections Thursday, a tenfold increase since the beginning of June. 
  • Myanmar is in the middle of its most severe wave of COVID-19 infections, reporting more than 7,000 cases and 145 virus deaths Wednesday. 
  • Daily COVID-19 infections in Singapore reached a 10-month high Wednesday. 
  • A cluster of COVID-19 infections broke out at a Japanese hotel housing members of the Brazilian Olympic team, stoking fears about infections at the upcoming Olympic Games.  
  • Authorities in Sydney, Australia, extended a pandemic lockdown through July as a recent COVID-19 outbreak approaches 900 cases. Melbourne followed, imposing a strict five-day lockdown
  • The U.K. reported 42,302 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the highest daily increase since January.
  • The Netherlands is reintroducing remote work rules just weeks after lifting its remaining pandemic restrictions. 
  • COVID-19 cases in Africa are up 43% over the past week as the continent experiences a 2.6% fatality rate among those infected, compared with a 2.2% global average.  
  • Rwanda is locking down its capital and other areas through July 26 to contain spiking COVID-19 infections. 
  • The U.S. will send 1.5 million vaccine doses to Sri Lanka through the COVAX initiative and 500,000 doses to Jordan to help fight the global pandemic.  
  • The World Bank lowered economic growth forecasts for the East Asia and Pacific region excluding China for the rest of 2021, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19. 
  • China’s GDP grew by 7.9% in the second quarter from a year earlier, in line with expectations but more than half as slow as the first quarter. The nation’s industrial output in June grew 8.3% from a year earlier and 8.8% from May. 
  • The Bank of Canada held its interest rate to a record low 0.25% while announcing new curbs to weekly bond purchases.
  • The number of people on U.K. payrolls surged to a pandemic high in June, rising 356,000 from the month before with an additional increase in average pay. 
  • Korean supplier LG Chem will invest $8.7 billion through 2025 to accelerate its battery materials operations amid an increased demand for electric vehicles. 
  • The EU and China recently unveiled their most extensive plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions in support of long-term goals to reach carbon neutrality. 

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.

Stay informed with industry trends and insights.

Stay informed with industry trends and insights.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.