COVID-19 Bulletin: March 3
March 3, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19
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- Oil prices fell to their lowest in two weeks yesterday on expectations that OPEC+ producers will ease supply curbs at their planned meeting later this week. Early reports suggest a widespread view within the group that the market can absorb additional barrels.
- Energy prices were higher in early trading today, with the WTI up 1.9% at $60.90/bbl and Brent up 1.9% at $63.87/bbl. Natural gas was 0.8% higher at $2.86/MMBtu.
- An internal document from OPEC experts suggested the recent oil price rally might have been caused more by financial players than improvement in oil market fundamentals.
- Demand for Mexico’s crude exports remain firm, with state-owned oil major Pemex not expected to reduce output as many other Latin American producers did last year.
- The chief executives of Saudi Aramco and Chevron predict global oil demand could return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, climbing back from the nearly 20% drop in demand last year.
- Pioneer Natural Resources’ chief executive predicts U.S. oil production will remain flat at around 11 million bpd in 2021.
- Saudi Arabia’s government reiterated its determination to sell down some of its interest in state-owned oil firm Saudi Aramco.
- Exxon Mobil will lay off approximately 7% of its workforce in Singapore by the end of 2021 as part of a global retrenchment.
- Through investments in renewables and better power transmission cables, the U.S. could reach 70% carbon-free electricity and cut emissions by 42% by 2030, according to a Bill Gates-led group.
- Six major utility companies announced the formation of the Electric Highway Coalition to build a seamless network of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the Eastern and South-Central U.S.
- Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.
- Retailers are continuing to report logistics struggles due to congested U.S. ports and elevated freight costs, prompting some to begin sending more goods by air.
- International Airlines Group, whose carriers include British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus, operated more than 4,000 cargo-only flights in 2020, leading to a 16.9% yearly increase in revenue for the group’s cargo unit.
- Truck drivers protested at the Port of Baltimore’s container terminal, citing hours-long truck jams that pose safety risks for dock workers and drivers.
- The Port of Los Angeles, one of the most congested in the nation, released a new Control Tower data tool to digitize the port’s supply chain and improve cargo efficiency.
- It will take some Texas chipmakers, including Samsung, two weeks or more to resume production in the state after shutdowns earlier this month, contributing to the global chip shortage for cars, laptops and other electronics. Samsung unveiled details on plans to build a $17 billion semiconductor facility in the U.S., which will create 1,800 jobs in its first 10 years.
- Taiwanese computer chip panel maker Innolux warned that chip shortages could extend into the first half of 2022.
- GlobalFoundries will invest $1.4 billion to expand computer chip output in the U.S., Germany and Singapore.
- 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.
- There were 56,780 new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. yesterday and 1,924 deaths. Eight percent of the population has now been fully vaccinated.
- Amid declining hospitalizations and infection rates, Texas’s governor lifted a statewide mask mandate and is permitting businesses to reopen to 100% capacity on March 10. GM and Toyota said their workers in the state will continue to wear masks despite the move.
- The CDC advised that states maintain COVID-19 restrictions such as mask wearing and capacity limitations as new U.S. cases leveled off to roughly 70,000 per day over the last week.
- Merck announced a plan to help produce Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, a massive step toward the White House’s goal of giving every adult American access to COVID-19 vaccines by the end of May.
- COVID-19 vaccination rates among older Black and Latino people are lagging elderly white people, raising concerns of prolonged exposure to the virus in communities at risk of more severe cases.
- The U.S. halted a trial of using convalescent blood plasma to treat COVID-19 patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms after initial results showed no medical benefits. The treatment was formerly touted in the U.S. late last year.
- There was only one flu death among children in the U.S. during the most recent flu season, down from 200 the prior year as social distancing and mask mandates cut transmission.
- The Federal Reserve urged “patience” in expectations of an economic recovery, with tens of millions of Americans still out of work due to the pandemic.
- Vaccine rollouts are providing retail pharmacy chains with a windfall of data for marketing and customer cultivation.
- Apple has reopened all its U.S. retail stores to the public for the first time since the pandemic began.
- Target’s retail sales jumped 20% last year, including $9 billion in share shift growth, as revenue grew more than it had in the previous 11 years combined. The company will spend $4 billion annually over the next several years to strengthen its online purchasing and delivery business.
- Online demand at retailer Kohl’s pushed holiday-quarter profit beyond market expectations, as the company’s digital sales surged to 42% of net sales during the period.
- JPMorgan is preparing to sublet more than 800,000 square feet of space in two Manhattan towers, a result of the pandemic-induced shift to remote work.
- U.S. food prices rose at nearly double the rate of inflation last year at 3%, consistent with a wider global trend of higher food costs due to pandemic-related disruptions and rising transport and packaging costs.
- The U.S. House of Representatives introduced a wide-ranging climate bill yesterday to support an ambitious plan to decarbonize the nation’s electricity grid by 2035.
- Business travel is not expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2025 due to the proliferation and effectiveness of videoconferencing during the pandemic.
- U.S. budget airlines are poised to take advantage of the industry downturn, potentially boosting their market share from 10% to 20% by the end of 2021.
- Brazilian officials are warning about a new, aggressively infectious COVID-19 strain first discovered in the country’s Amazon area, believing it to be responsible for a recent rise in deaths and infections in younger people. Brazil’s resurging virus mutation, which appears capable of reinfection, is a warning to the world, according to scientists.
- Mexico recently surpassed 2 million coronavirus infections. Official COVID-19 deaths in the country are expected to climb to nearly 210,000 by June, a 10% increase, with data suggesting that the actual count is already much higher.
- COVID-19 cases have doubled in Stockholm in the past three weeks, sparking fears of a third wave.
- Tokyo is set to extend its state of emergency by two weeks after new COVID-19 cases started to plateau in recent days.
- National and state leaders in Germany are meeting today to decide on possible relaxations of the country’s lockdown. The country is expected to begin easing some restrictions as early as next week.
- Portugal had the fewest number of COVID-19 patients at its hospitals in four months yesterday, as officials urged the public to continue obeying lockdown curbs.
- Australia’s international border will remain shut for at least another three months, as officials still consider the risk of importing the virus to be too high.
- Around half of health workers in French nursing homes do not want to be vaccinated, risking continued transmission of the virus to residents who are at higher risk of serious illness.
- China announced a goal to vaccinate 40% of its 1.4 billion people before the end of June, an ambitious target when only 3.5% of the population have so far received shots.
- Asian countries that initially contained COVID-19 are now facing the repercussions of their early success, including a lax start to vaccinating the public and potential slowdowns in economic recovery due to continued border closures.
- Supply of AstraZeneca/Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine is piling up in Europe as Germany, Italy and other countries restrict older people from receiving the shot.
- The European Commission is considering emergency approvals for COVID-19 vaccines as a faster alternative to traditional authorizations that have slowed the bloc’s rollout. Austria and Denmark have partnered with Israel to produce second-generation COVID-19 vaccines after facing delays in ordering, approving and distributing vaccines under European Union protocols.
- Ghana launched its inoculation campaign yesterday after receiving 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford’s vaccine from the international vaccine-sharing group COVAX.
- COVAX plans to distribute 237 million doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford’s vaccine to 142 countries by the end of May.
- Euro-area inflation eased in February after spiking the month before as coronavirus lockdowns tempered the economy.
- Canada’s GDP expanded at a faster-than-forecast 9.6% annualized rate in the fourth quarter.
- The White House’s proposed $4 billion grant to promote development in Central America is expected to help lift the economy of southern Mexico, which has lagged other parts of the country.
- G-20 major economies, including the U.S., are considering a $500 billion donation to the International Monetary Fund to help low-income countries deal with the fallout of the pandemic.
- International air traffic plunged 86% in January from pre-pandemic levels, while domestic air travel was down nearly 50%.
- Consumers worldwide saved $2.9 trillion during the pandemic due to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, providing impetus for the economic recovery.
- Nearly 170 million children globally lost a year or more of school due to the pandemic.
We will provide further COVID-19 bulletins as circumstances dictate. For all COVID-19 updates and notices, please refer to the M. Holland website.