Oil prices fell over 1.5% Wednesday on a surprise build in U.S. crude inventories last week and possible progress in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. In mid-morning trading today, WTI futures were up 7.8% at $102.50/bbl, Brent was up 8.4% at $106.30/bbl and U.S. natural gas was up 4.6% at $4.97/MMBtu.
The U.S. government expects Brent crude to average $116/bbl and WTI to average $112/bbl in the second quarter before declining.
Norway and its largest producer, Equinor, are working to expand gas output in the normally slower summer season to help make up for lost European supplies from Russia.
Germany’s top power supplier echoed the government’s warnings of dire economic consequences if the nation were to immediately halt Russian energy imports. Household utility bills are already at record highs.
More supply chain news related to the war in Europe:
Container ship spot rates on Asia-North Europe routes have fallen steadily from a peak of around $15,000 per FEU at the end of January to between $12,500 and $13,500 per FEU last week due to softening demand.
The London Metal Exchange briefly reopened trading in nickel on Wednesday before the metal dropped 5%, reaching its new limit on daily trade swings and prompting another suspension. Volatility is worsened by the growing exodus of Western directors from Russian metal giant MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC.
U.S. consumer spending on e-commerce could hit a record $1 trillion this year, Adobe Analytics predicts, some 13% higher than 2021.
The Georgia Ports Authority will spend $150 million to grow capacity at the Port of Brunswick’s flagship auto port and breakbulk terminal for forest products.
Container ships skipped calls at the world’s smaller ports at a quickening pace in 2021, with the hardest-hit ports in Sri Lanka and Greece losing up to 40% of expected capacity.
Following a string of carrier acquisitions, Costco now delivers 85% of its less-than-truckload shipments for U.S. e-commerce through Costco Logistics, its in-house, in-home delivery unit.
To shorten lead times, Party City will start directly chartering vessels, leasing containers and using less popular ports along the U.S. East Coast.
Trucker Yellow saw an annual 33.8% rise in revenue per hundredweight in February despite a 27.4% decline in tonnage.
Amazon’s air cargo unit now makes an average of 187 flights per day, up from just 85 in May 2020, making it the world’s fastest growing air cargo business as it seeks to compete with market leaders UPS and FedEx.
Eighteen companies — a mix of ocean carriers, retailers and freight forwarders — will begin sharing supply chain data under a U.S. federal pilot program launched yesterday aimed at improving the flow of goods.
The British government approved a $5.26 billion package to fund expansion and improvements in the nation’s shipbuilding sector.
Denmark approved $185 million yesterday for expanding green hydrogen production capacity aimed at fueling a new generation of cleaner vessels in the shipping sector.
The U.S. reported 45,014 new COVID-19 infections and 1,943 virus fatalities Wednesday.
Newly admitted COVID-19 hospital patients are nearing their lowest recorded level after any prior surge, with the seven-day average sliding to 6,406 Wednesday, down from a peak above 28,000 in January.
First-time unemployment claims fell by 15,000 last week to 214,000, a two-and-a-half month low.
The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point to a range between 0.25% and 0.5% yesterday, the first time in four years, with at least six more rate hikes planned for this year. The central bank also signaled it would begin to shrink its $9 trillion asset portfolio built up during the pandemic as soon as its next meeting in May.
Federal Reserve officials see core U.S. inflation hitting 4.1% this year, higher than market expectations of 3.5%.
U.S. retail sales rose 0.3% in February from the previous month, led by higher spending at gas stations and bars and restaurants. Although slower than January’s 4.9% pace, the number is a promising sign that American consumers are still willing to absorb higher prices.
The average U.S. 30-year mortgage rate jumped to 4.27% from 4.09% last week, while applications to purchase a home fell 8% from the year-ago period.
Germany’s seven-day COVID-19 infection rate reached a record high this week. Lawmakers are debating a possible vaccine mandate for the country at the same time others are advocating for the planned lifting of restrictions.
A major index tracking Chinese makers of cars and components is down 46% this year, as sluggish sales and supply chain disruptions make investors more pessimistic about the world’s largest car market. The nation’s electric vehicle sales fell at a double-digit pace for the second straight month in February.