COVID-19 Bulletin: March 23

March 23, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

Hello,

More news relevant to the plastics industry:

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Supply

  • Crude futures were lower in mid-day trading today, with the WTI down 3.9% at $59.16/bbl and Brent 3.5% lower at $62.33/bbl. Natural gas was 1.8% lower at $1.93/MMBtu.  
  • Recent upticks in travel and consumption patterns in the U.S. and China point to recovering demand for petroleum products. 
  • China has sharply increased imports of oil from Iran and Venezuela, a challenge to U.S. foreign-policy priorities. 
  • Saudi Aramco publicly announced it would prioritize energy supply to China for the next 50 years. The producer is currently China’s top supplier, with volumes up to 1.86 million bpd.
  • Saudi Aramco posted a 44% decline in profits from 2019 to 2020, a positive statistic compared to other companies that fared far worse during last year’s demand slump. 
  • Low-rated U.S. oil firms have raised more than $20 billion on the bond market so far this year, a record, as the recovery in oil prices increases investor appetite for high-yield bonds. 
  • Russia expects its LNG production capacity to rise threefold by 2035 to 140 million tons per year. 
  • Chevron, unable to find a buyer for its 50% stake in the Kitimat LNG project in Canada as part of its global restructuring, said it would cease funding the project.
  • Global spending on renewable projects in 2021 is set to rise from $224 billion last year to $243 billion in 2021, a record. 
  • Top U.S. oil company executives have expressed support for carbon pricing as a method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • The U.K. is debating whether to include the shipping industry as part of its new carbon market, where the government instates pollution limits on utilities, factories and airlines. 
  • Pennsylvania, a center of coal and shale production, is installing solar arrays in six counties that will supply half of the state government’s power needs. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.

Supply Chain

  • The global computer chip shortage has curtailed pickup truck production for all three major Detroit automakers, while the recent fire at a chip manufacturer in Japan could further disrupt production for Honda, Nissan and Toyota, prompting a national effort to repair the facility.  
  • The computer chip shortage forced Volvo to cut truck production at plants in Belgium and Brazil as the company warned the shortage will impact second-quarter results.  
  • DHL is investing 7 billion euros over the next decade to reach climate-neutral logistics by 2030.
  • Truck driver availability in the U.S. has tightened to a three-year low.
  • Dollar General is expanding its private truck fleet hoping to offset high third-party logistics costs.
  • U.K. food and drink exports to the European Union plunged 75.5% in January following the nation’s exit from the bloc, new data shows.
  • The number of available shipping containers across China’s main ports has grown by 56% since the Chinese New Year, highlighting improvements in supply and demand. 
  • Container freight rates are spiking, and containership newbuild orders are surging at yards in China, South Korea and Japan. 
  • Crews have nearly completed dredging Charleston Harbor to 52 feet, making it the deepest port in the Eastern U.S. After regulatory clearance, the Port of Charleston will soon begin container operations at its Leatherman Terminal.
  • India’s containerized trade expanded 13.2% in the fourth quarter, alongside a 36.3% jump in imports. 
  • Japan’s largest airline is expanding freighter services amid growing demand for cargo transportation between Asia and North America, including automobile parts from Japan and perishables from North America. 
  • CMA CGM is set to order 20 new container ships powered by conventional fuel and outfitted with scrubbers. 
  • Hyundai Heavy Industries is looking to develop fuel cells for shipping vessels. 
  • A shortage of corrugated material is requiring some suppliers to ship in boxes that may not be stackable. Such unstackable packaging should be clearly marked. In the interest of safety, we urge clients and our fulfillment partners to notify anyone involved in logistics operations to be mindful of the shortage and careful to heed warning labels that may appear on resin containers.
  • Logistics conditions remain strained, with trucking demand exceeding availability and continued congestion at ports due in part to operating challenges related to the pandemic. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates.

Markets

International

  • More than 500 of Brazil’s top banking and finance executives issued an open letter to the government seeking more action to combat the pandemic as the nation’s COVID-19 cases surpassed 12 million yesterday, with virus fatalities quickly approaching 300,000. 
  • Germany will go into “hard lockdown” for five days over Easter to reverse a third wave of COVID-19 largely spread by virulent mutations. 
  • Austria canceled plans to reopen its economy around Easter due to another wave of COVID-19. 
  • Doctors in Hungary are recruiting volunteer ward workers as a third wave of the pandemic stretches the nation’s healthcare resources. 
  • Confidence in China-made vaccines is plummeting in Hong Kong, where seven deaths and dozens of adverse reactions were reported following the first 160,000 doses of the Sinovac shot. 
  • Russia is ramping up vaccine production with an aim to inoculate 70 million people by the end of the year. 
  • Employment in the U.K. ticked higher for the third straight month, offering hope that the nation is emerging from its worst recession in three centuries.  
  • The number of people heading out to shops in the U.K. rose by 0.5% last week, the eighth rise in nine weeks as the end of pandemic restrictions draw near. 
  • After contracting by 11% in 2020, Spain’s economy is poised for a 7.2% GDP rebound this year, one of the largest projected gains in Europe. 
  • Germany’s economy is expected to shrink sharply this quarter amid continued coronavirus lockdowns affecting the nation’s services and construction industries. 
  • European aviation stocks took steep hits yesterday amid concern over a third wave of COVID-19 and doubts surrounding the U.K.’s plans to restore travel. 
  • The pandemic fueled a surge in PC sales last year:
Pandemic Fuels Surge in PC Monitor Sales

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.
  • M. Holland is proud to be named among the Plastics News Best Places to Work again this year. We also were recently named among the Best Places to Work by Crain’s Chicago Business.
  • 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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