COVID-19 Bulletin: May 10

May 10, 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 0.1% at $64.81/bbl and Brent 0.1% lower at $68.20/bbl. Natural gas was 0.8% lower at $2.94/MMBtu. 
  • The operator of the largest U.S. fuel pipeline — a 5,500-mile conduit between Texas and New Jersey — suspended all operations after getting hit with a cyberattack on Friday. 
  • A worsening tanker-truck driver shortage could spark higher fuel prices and gas shortages this summer. 
  • Weekly fuel sales in the U.K. rose to their highest levels since March 2020 last week, suggesting the nation’s reopening is quickly leading to higher oil demand. 
  • India is increasing its June orders for Saudi crude following recent price cuts from the Kingdom.
  • A proposed law in New Mexico would cancel exemptions on fossil fuel emissions for oil and gas companies. 
  • A consortium of oil majors, including Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil, will receive $2.4 billion from the Dutch government for one of the world’s largest carbon capture and storage projects.
  • Raw material shortages forced Dow on Friday to declare force majeure for UNIPOL™ HDPE blow molding products.
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here. 

Supply Chain

  • Stellantis is extending the shutdown of its Jeep Grand Cherokee and minivan plants into mid-May due to the semiconductor shortage.
  • Ford predicts a full recovery of semiconductor chip supply will stretch into the fourth quarter of 2021 and possibly into 2022.
  • Maritime consultant Drewry predicts average freight rates will increase 23% this year before dropping next year to levels still substantially above pre-pandemic levels. 
  • Prices for industrial metals are up 21% this year, threatening across-the-board inflation on a wide range of products, especially cars. 
  • Big grocers are beginning to fine suppliers over late or incomplete orders, adding tension to supply chains fraught with labor shortages, supply constraints and high freight costs. 
  • Ports in East Asia were ranked as the world’s most efficient, with only one North American port among the top 50.
  • The list is growing of countries barring ships from changing crews at their ports if the vessels have visited India. 
  • Inland waterways in Northern Europe are the latest victims of port congestion, where wait times have significantly increased and even doubled alongside mounting surcharges. 
  • Warehouse vacancy rates in the Toronto area have fallen to just 0.5%, making it the tightest market in North America and potentially the world. 
  • Union Pacific is opening a “pop-up” intermodal rail terminal near southern California’s busy ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
  • 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

  • There were 21,392 new COVID-19 cases and 238 deaths in the U.S. yesterday and over 34,000 infections and 617 deaths on Saturday. Over 261 million vaccine doses have been administered, with 32.5% of the population fully vaccinated. 
  • The U.S. is poised for its first week since mid-September in which daily coronavirus cases average below 50,000
  • Cases involving variants of the COVID-19 virus have soared in Florida since spring break, with more than 10,000 reported, the most of any state. 
  • The White House indicated support for further easing mask rules and restrictions for vaccinated Americans, as 58% of people have received at least one COVID-19 shot. 
  • Despite multiple states removing their mask mandates, many Americans are still hesitant to go out in public without wearing one. 
  • South Carolina joined Montana in announcing plans to cancel the extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits funded by the federal government. 
  • Governments are coming up with creative ways to incentivize people to get COVID-19 vaccines:
    • New Jersey’s governor is mulling cash payments to complement the state’s current “shot and a beer” program, which offers free beverages for people who can show proof of a first vaccine. 
    • Western New York also offers a “Shot and a Chaser” program giving out free drinks. 
    • Maryland is offering $100 to all state employees who get vaccinated. 
    • Vaccinated West Virginians between the ages of 16-35 will get a $100 savings bond
    • Those getting a COVID-19 vaccine at New York’s two major league baseball stadiums will get a free ticket to a game
  • Pfizer/BioNTech are seeking full U.S. approval for their COVID-19 vaccine, a step up from the current “emergency” approval that would allow the company to sell shots directly to consumers and make it easier for businesses or the government to require inoculations. 
  • Kindergartners could face lifetime effects from lower levels of socialization caused by last year’s school shutdowns.
  • Prices of many consumer products have risen by double-digit percentages since last year, a potential precursor for higher levels of inflation.
  • Rent prices for single-family homes across the U.S. are increasing alongside home prices, a result of record occupancy rates and widespread demand. Meanwhile, demand for mortgages is cooling over fears of rising interest rates. 
  • A shortage of new cars due to the global chip shortage caused used car prices in the U.S. to soar in April, with the average price of a preowned vehicle hitting $25,463, a record. 
  • U.S. apparel imports rose 11.6% in the first quarter from the year-ago period. 
  • Orders for industrial robots rose 20% in the first quarter, with purchases increasing the most in the metals and pharmaceuticals industries. 
  • Poultry shortages have led to historic price increases for chicken parts, affecting both restaurants and individual consumers. 
  • First-quarter revenue at online furniture retailer Wayfair jumped nearly 50% from last year. 
  • Some U.S. small businesses are resorting to discounts for cash-made purchases to avoid rising debit and credit card transaction fees. 
  • Burger King has launched a green pilot program in 51 of its Miami locations, using recycled materials in packaging and utensils. 
  • An increase in animal adoptions during the pandemic led to strong financial gains for animal health companies. 
  • Air pollution from natural gas was deadlier than coal in 19 states, a new study shows. 

International

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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