COVID-19 Bulletin: May 26

May 26, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

Hello,

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Supply

  • The oil industry is experiencing a rare week of steady pricing, with the possibility the U.S. could ease sanctions on Iran offsetting rebounding oil demand in the U.S. and Europe. 
  • Prices were higher in mid-day trading today, with WTI up 0.1% at $66.14/bbl and Brent up 0.2% at $68.81/bbl. Natural gas was up 1.2% at $2.95/MMBtu.  
  • AAA expects Memorial Day weekend gas prices to reach their highest levels since 2014, with the average price for a gallon up $1.12 compared to this time last year. 
  • OPEC has asked members of its OPEC+ alliance to submit plans on how they will compensate for pumping beyond their respective pandemic-induced quotas in recent months. 
  • The Transportation Security Administration is planning to release two new security directives requiring pipeline operators to notify it when they are targets or victims of cyberattacks. 
  • Exxon shareholders will vote today on an activist investor’s proposed slate of four new directors who would push for a pledge of carbon neutrality by 2050. 
  • California’s Department of Conservation is in the early stages of crafting legislation that would end fracking in the state in 2024.
  • New research from Scotland suggests that more than 50% of people employed in the U.K.’s offshore oil and gas industry could be working on low-carbon energy projects by 2030. 
  • The White House is set to approve more than a dozen offshore wind projects over the next four years and open new leasing areas off California’s coast, hoping to boost development in the renewable energy sector. 
  • The EU is mulling a new tax on jet fuel as a way to boost its chances of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. 
  • The rising price of polysilicon, a key material needed to create solar energy, is threatening projects across the U.S. and India, with solar module prices rising 18% since the beginning of the year. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here. 

Supply Chain

  • Renault-Nissan will shut down its plant in India through May 30 after workers announced they would strike over COVID-19 safety protocols.
  • Some economists are predicting that China could see a boom in its manufacturing industry as companies move their supply chains out of India and Vietnam due to a resurgence in COVID-19. 
  • Despite a shortage in components, tight capacity and rising material costs, Taiwan’s handset makers are optimistic about the third quarter, with forecasts showing that the easing of the pandemic combined with 5G rollouts will drive up shipments. 
  • Corn futures for July delivery dropped by 6% on Tuesday to $6.18 per bushel, a one-month low. 
  • The cost of softwood lumber, commonly used in high-rise apartment buildings, is up 83% from the same time last year, threatening to cool down one of the hottest construction sectors since the pandemic began. 
  • After posting a 30% year over year decline in the first quarter, Foot Locker says declining congestion at West Coast ports will improve the company’s financials in the coming months. 
  • On-time deliveries at FedEx reached 87% from March through mid-April, significantly lower than rival UPS at 95%. 
  • Surging demand for consumer goods is accelerating the adoption of robots and other autonomous technology to fill labor gaps in the warehouse industry. 
  • Trucking companies are expanding capacity through equipment overhauls and investments in new tractors and drop trailers. The American Trucking Association says that 60,000 more drivers are needed to meet soaring demand and ease supply chain pressures.  
  • Analysts predict a shortage of new investment in mining projects will lead to tight supply of “technology metals” as demand rises from makers of batteries, electric cars and wind turbines.  
  • The U.S. plans to rely on other countries to supply the bulk of metals needed to produce electric vehicles and instead focus domestic efforts on the processing of battery parts. 
  • As a western drought continues, wildfires have already consumed five times more acreage in California than at the same time in 2020, the worst wildfire season in history. 
  • Logistics conditions remain strained, with trucking demand exceeding availability and continued congestion at ports primarily due to increased volume of ships and containers. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates.

Markets

  • The CDC says that nearly 1 in 2 Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while more than half of all U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated, putting the country on target to reach the White House’s goal of 70% inoculation by July 4
  • The nation reported 22,756 new coronavirus infections and 621 deaths on Tuesday. 
  • Infections of vaccinated Americans have been minimal, with the CDC having identified just 10,000 “breakthrough infections” among the millions vaccinated. 
  • Moderna is seeking regulatory approval for its COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents aged 12-17 after a study showed the jab was between 93% to 100% effective
  • Colorado is launching a $5 million lottery to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations.  
  • Alabama’s governor signed a bill on Monday banning the use of “vaccine passports.” 
  • Hoping to boost vaccination numbers, New York City will bring mobile vaccination sites to its beaches and other popular summer spots beginning Memorial Day weekend. New York state relaxed mask-wearing requirements for unvaccinated children in childcare and camp programs. 
  • Harvard University will fully reopen its campus for the fall semester after mandating that all students be vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • Despite social media misinformation, states and businesses generally have the right to mandate vaccines for workers and students. 
  • The National Institutes of Health will spend $1.15 billion in researching long-term COVID-19 symptoms, hoping to establish a consensus on how to diagnose and treat patients suffering from symptoms months after contracting the virus. 
  • A person’s respiration rate and blood-oxygen saturation, both of which can be monitored at home, are two predictors of high COVID-19 mortality rates, new research shows. 
  • The U.S. State Department is allowing citizens abroad to use expired passports to return to the country through the end of the year after embassies and consulates have been forced to curtail passport services due to the pandemic.  
  • As companies begin to open offices, workers are attempting to adapt to new hybrid schedules, which can be even more complicated than last year’s transition to remote work. 
  • With more than 12.6 million households in the U.S. adopting pets between March and December of last year, the pet care industry could balloon from $100 billion in 2019 to $275 billion by 2030, analysts project. 
  • U.S. home prices had their biggest gain since 2005 in March, surging 13.2% compared to a year earlier, while single-family home sales fell more than expected in April, dropping by 5.9% to an 863,000 annualized pace. 
  • At the same time, “pocket listings” of homes, where a real estate agent shows an unlisted property to a small circle of usually wealthier potential buyers, have increased sharply.
  • U.S. consumer confidence fell for the first time this year in May, with The Conference Board’s index dropping to 117.2 from 117.5 in April. 
  • Royal Caribbean received CDC approval to begin test cruises with volunteer passengers next month to trial its COVID-19 protocols.  
  • The White House, circumventing a law prohibiting foreign vessels from transporting people between American ports, signed a bill allowing foreign-flag cruise ships to sail from Washington state to Alaska without stopping in Canada first, after Canada banned passenger vessels from its waters until February 2022 as a result of the pandemic. 
  • Companies such as General Mills and Betty Crocker are introducing new kits and recipe collections hoping to capitalize on the popularity of a baking trend that took off during the pandemic. 
  • Ford Motors is set to announce the development of two new platforms dedicated to developing electric vehicles: one for full-size trucks and SUVs and the other for cars and smaller SUVs. 

International

  • There were 4.1 million COVID-19 infections globally last week, a 14% decline from the prior week, while deaths were down 3% to 84,000.  
  • India reported 208,921 new COVID-19 cases and 4,157 deaths Wednesday, as the number of total infections in the country topped 27 million.
    • The virulent COVID-19 strain first detected in India has now spread to 53 global territories, the World Health Organization says. 
    • The country’s large number of cases has prompted doctors to prescribe antibiotics that are not meant to treat the virus, increasing the resistance of other infections and viruses to antibiotics and increasing the risk of “superbugs.” 
    • The country is bracing for a new cyclonic storm on its northeastern coast, with experts fearing a humanitarian crisis as the nation struggles to control its COVID-19 cases. 
  • Malaysia’s seven-day average COVID-19 infection rate has soared to 205 per 100,000 of its population, surpassing India, with 150 infections per 100,000 people.  
  • Hospitals in Osaka, Japan, are running low on both beds and ventilators, with the region taking the overwhelming brunt of Japan’s fourth wave of the virus. Roughly 3,900 new infectionswere reported across the nation Tuesday. 
  • Hong Kong will offer COVID-19 vaccines to visitors from mainland China as well as asylum seekers, as the country warns that it may have to throw out millions of unused doses of Pfizer/BioNTech jabs, a result of vaccine hesitancy persisting throughout the nation. 
  • The U.S. and parts of Europe improved their resilience to COVID-19 in May, while countries in southeast and southern Asia have significantly dropped resilience levels, new research shows. 
  • The U.K. is urging residents to avoid traveling to COVID-19 hotspots in England where the variant first found in India is gaining traction. 
  • The number of new COVID-19 infections and deaths in France are continuing to decline with the country reporting roughly 3,500 new cases on Tuesday, down from more than 6,000 per day at the end of April. 
  • Portugal plans to speed up its vaccination rollout in Lisbon in June, offering the jabs to 30- to 40-year-olds to help curb a rise in virus cases. 
  • Russia’s far east region of Yakutia will require all companies to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for their workers, making it the first region in the country to force vaccines upon citizens. 
  • Mexico is set to receive its first batch of locally produced AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines this week with plans to send half the batch to Argentina as part of a joint effort between the two countries to combat the virus. 
  • Facing a late third wave of infections, hospitals in Canada’s Manitoba province are flying some critically ill COVID-19 patients to other provinces, hoping to avoid overwhelming the area’s healthcare system. 
  • The EU will receive more than 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines from four different manufacturers by the end of September, putting the bloc on track to exceed its initial goal of inoculating 70% of its adult population by the end of summer. European health officials are debating the risks and benefits of inoculating children against the virus. 
  • With its handling of the pandemic under scrutiny, a special ministerial session of the World Health Organization will be held in South Africa at the end of the year to negotiate a new global treaty regarding pandemic preparedness. 
  • Vaccine makers have stepped up international lobbying efforts to oppose a U.S.-backed patent waiver they say would not address vaccine shortages anytime soon while straining raw material supplies. 
  • Central banks of G7 nations added about $7 trillion of debt last year after spending heavily on programs to ease the pandemic and prop up their economies, posing long-term quantitative easing challenges. 
  • German automotive brand Smart is set to debut a new China-built compact electric SUV at the Munich auto show in September, hoping to compete against more mainstream brands in the market. 
  • With Brussels planning to propose more stringent climate change policies in July, EU leaders postponed plans to determine how the bloc will meet new targets of reducing vehicle emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels. 
  • Countries around the world raised $53 billion last year by charging firms for emitting carbon dioxide, up almost 18% from 2019. 
  • A study of two remote island groups, one in the South Pacific and one off the coast of Australia, shows that accumulated plastic debris on the islands’ beaches increased temperatures by nearly 2.5 degrees Celsius

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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