COVID-19 Bulletin: May 6

May 6, 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 1.4% at $64.73/bbl and Brent off 1.2% at $68.11/bbl. Natural gas was down 0.3% at $2.93/MMBtu. 
  • The American Petroleum Institute reported a crude draw of 7.7 million barrels for the week ending April 30, more than double analyst expectations. 
  • Fearing price hikes, Asian countries are preparing for the winter by purchasing large amounts of liquefied natural gas in advance, with China’s Sinopec already securing 35 cargoes to be delivered between June and next February. 
  • New Mexico set a record for the highest monthly royalty earnings from gas and oil leases in April, hitting almost $110 million. 
  • ConocoPhillips posted its first profitable quarter since the start of the pandemic, reporting earnings of $1 billion, compared to a loss of $1.7 billion this time last year. 
  • Canada is trying to stop Michigan from closing a cross-border oil and gas pipeline that supplies gasoline, jet fuel, and home-heating oil for Ontario and Quebec, saying the closure would lead to job losses and higher fuel costs. 
  • A new report from a non-partisan climate and energy think tank shows that roughly 80% of U.S. coal plants are more expensive to keep running than to replace with new wind and solar capacity. 
  • The White House is considering taxpayer subsidies to keep nuclear plants from closing to help meet its climate goals. 
  • Uncapped and idle oil wells could be leaking millions of kilos of methane into the atmosphere and surface water every year, a new study shows. 
  • New data shows that China emits over 26% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than the rest of the OECD nations combined. 
  • Phillips 66 declared force majeure on polypropylene products after experiencing an equipment failure at its Bayway Refinery in New Jersey. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here. 

Supply Chain

  • The global semiconductor shortage is prompting automakers to omit high-tech features from new vehicles. 
  • U.S. automakers enjoyed a strong rebound in first-quarter profits, as the average price of a new car rose to a record $37,314, but they’re bracing for setbacks in the months ahead due to the global computer chip shortage. 
  • Consumer-facing companies are warning that supply shortages and logistical problems could force them to raise prices, sparking inflation fears. 
  • C.H. Robinson reported a 33% year over year increase in average first-quarter load rates, a result of tightened capacity amid increasing consumer demand. 
  • Maersk plans to buy back up to $5 billion in shares after its net profit surged to $2.7 billion in the first quarter, up from just $197 million in the year-ago period. 
  • Industry experts expect Asian and South American countries to absorb higher import costs amid increasing pressure from the White House to curb U.S. shipping emissions. 
  • Major consumer goods companies are supporting a U.N. sponsored initiative to help free more than 200,000 seafarers who have been stuck on ships during the pandemic by government restrictions on crew changes.
  • 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

  • The daily average of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. dropped below 50,000 for the first time since early October, while health experts predict the number of new cases per week could fall below 50,000 by the end of July
  • The U.S. reported 44,510 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 776 deaths.  
  • Florida reported 4,394 new COVID-19 infections and 79 deaths on Wednesday, a day after the state’s governor rolled back all remaining COVID-19 restrictions. 
  • Oregon businesses are suing the state’s governor over a 60-day extension of a state of emergency meant to curb a recent surge in COVID-19. 
  • New research shows COVID-19 patients with diabetes face a higher risk of severe virus symptoms, while previously infected patients are more likely to develop diabetes following recovery. 
  • The White House came out in support of lifting patent protections to help produce more COVID-19 vaccines, a potential breakthrough for global inoculation efforts but a blow to some pharmaceutical companies
  • A federal judge struck down the CDC’s national eviction moratorium put in place last September, saying the effort to protect homeowners and renters exceeded the agency’s powers. The ruling is countered by state governments such as New York, which extended its moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through August. 
  • Children comprised over 26% of COVID-19 infections in Colorado the week ended April 25.  
  • The White House’s top medical adviser said that strict CDC guidelines recently issued for children at summer camps may be revised
  • CVS Health will begin allowing walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations at its locations across the U.S. The news comes as retail pharmacy chains throughout the country are using just a fraction of vaccine doses they planned to administer. 
  • While most U.S. employers are backing staff immunizations, many are hesitant to make it a requirement, fearing a mandate could pose legal challenges and force workers to quit. 
  • The decline of tourism and entertainment has hit New York City especially hard, as the city faces an unemployment rate that’s almost double the national average, just two weeks before pandemic restrictions are lifted. 
  • Strong consumer demand drove U.S. imports to a record high in March, up 6.3% from February.  
  • The U.S. is facing a “jobs paradox” with high unemployment rates but labor shortages in many sectors that could derail the economic recovery.  
  • Rhode Island’s governor is mulling a plan to use the state’s leftover federal pandemic aid to send $25 gift cards to residents to be used at local businesses, a bid to boost the state’s economic recovery. 
  • First time jobless claims fell to 498,000 last week, down almost 100,000 from the prior week to the lowest level since the pandemic crash.
  • After hitting a record-high last month, growth in the U.S. services sector slowed slightly in April, with an index reading falling from 63.7 to 62.7 month over month
  • The U.S. Labor Department blocked a regulation that would have made it easier for gig-economy businesses such as Uber and DoorDash to classify workers as independent contractors, thus skirting federal overtime and benefit protections. 
  • Employers returning to in-person work will have to find ways to manage increased levels of mental and emotional issues among employees, a potentially lingering effect of more than a year of isolating lockdowns.
  • The CDC issued guidelines for trial cruises with volunteer passengers as the industry prepares for a resumption in sailings in July.  
  • Peloton is recalling treadmills, and its CEO apologized after initially rebuffing a Consumer Product Safety Commission request to recall the machines over safety issues that have injured dozens and killed a six-year old boy.  
  • Amazon is developing new surveillance methods that will monitor staff for their usage of certain muscle groups and rotate their roles accordingly to prevent on-the-job injuries. 

International

  • India reported 412,431 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, another global record, while deaths of 3,980 set a national record. 
  • COVID-19 has ravaged Latin America, with the region accounting for roughly 30% of the world’s virus-related deaths amid an economic contraction of 7% in 2020, more than double the decline of any other region. 
  • Canada became the first country to authorize use of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents as young as 12. 
  • France widened vaccine eligibility to 16- and 17-year-olds at high risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms.  
  • International trade representatives gathered Wednesday to discuss the waiving of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. Proponents argue the measure would reduce a widening vaccine disparity among nations, as low-income countries are set to fall behind their wealthier counterparts in inoculations by three years or more. 
  • Belgium became the 28th nation to log more than 1 million COVID-19 cases.  
  • Despite inoculating 62% of its population against COVID-19, the East African country of Seychelles, the world’s most vaccinated nation, is reinstating some COVID-19 restrictions after a surge in new infections. 
  • The Philippines may soon turn a corner on inoculating more of its citizens with expected deliveries of millions of vaccines by the end of the month. 
  • Despite a spike in COVID-19 infections and fatalities, Cambodia began easing lockdowns yesterday. 
  • Amid tight vaccine supply, South Korea is temporarily halting new vaccinations to prioritize second shots. 
  • Travel agencies in Thailand have begun offering citizens “vaccine tours” to the U.S., as wealthier citizens grow impatient with the country’s rollout. The nation, which made its first detection of the highly infectious Brazilian COVID-19 variant, is opening vaccine eligibility to the 3 million foreigners living there.  
  • Norway announced plans to introduce vaccine certificates in June, allowing holders to gain admittance to events throughout the country. 
  • As the U.K. emerges from lockdowns, London faces an uphill battle to economic recovery, as more people moved to the suburbs during the pandemic and the city accounted for roughly 30% of a national drop in payrolls in 2020. 
  • The pandemic has upended the global real estate market, with rents plummeting across cities and bidding wars on suburban houses causing prices to soar. 
  • Home prices in Toronto posted their sharpest decline in nearly a year, with the average price for a home dropping 3.6% in April. 
  • Brazil is signaling it will move ahead with hiking interest rates amid concerns over higher inflation forecasts. 
  • The EU has drafted new rules aimed to stop foreign companies from making acquisitions in Europe or from receiving public contracts if they benefited from foreign government subsidies. 
  • The EU is asking India to join a global treaty to stop the flow of plastic pollution into the world’s oceans and natural habitats.

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.

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