COVID-19 Bulletin: May 28

May 28, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

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Supply

  • Energy futures were mixed in mid-day trading today, with the WTI down 0.7% to $66.38/bbl, Brent up 0.2% to $69.63/bbl and natural gas 0.8% higher at $2.98/MMBtu. 
  • The average price for gas is $3.04/gallon entering the Memorial Day weekend, the highest in seven years.  
  • With uncertainty surrounding an increase in Iranian oil supply, OPEC+ said it is likely to keep up its gradual pace of easing oil supply curbs
  • U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) developer Tellurian Inc. has signed a 10-year agreement worth roughly $12 billion with commodity trader Gunvor Group for 3 million tonnes per year of LNG. 
  • Royal Dutch Shell may have to overhaul its business and cut its oil output faster than it had planned following yesterday’s emissions ruling from a Dutch court. 
  • French oil major Total won more than 90% backing from investors on Friday for its plan for carbon neutrality by 2050, while shareholders also approved a rebranding of the company to TotalEnergies, marking a shift towards renewable energy. 
  • China is increasing its oversight on crude oil imports, asking five of its state-owned oil companies to provide information about how they use their imports in a bid to crack down on tax loopholes.  
  • With more fields coming on stream, oil companies in Norway are expected to spend 4.8% more in 2021 on offshore oil and gas operations than predicted three months ago. 
  • Germany and Norway have officially launched NordLink, allowing for the exchange of Norwegian hydropower and German wind and solar energy via a new 400-mile cable along the bottom of the North Sea. 
  • Dow, LyondellBasell and NOVA Chemicals have partnered to establish the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund, with plans to invest $25 million in scalable recycling technologies, equipment upgrades, and infrastructure solutions in the U.S. and Canada. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here. 

Supply Chain

  • General Motors is restarting production at a number of its plants suspended due to the ongoing global chip shortage. 
  • Hoping to secure its supply amid the global semiconductor shortage, Tesla announced it will start paying in advance for chips. 
  • Workers at a Ford assembly plant in southern India staged a sit-in protest amid the country’s COVID-19 surge. 
  • The Port of Long Beach is waiving pollution fees for low-emissions natural gas-powered trucks, hoping to incentivize further adoption of fleets using the cleaner fuel. 
  • Germany’s rebounding construction industry is facing slowdowns due to increased supply bottlenecks of timber, steel and insulating materials. 
  • China’s “Uber for trucks” service, the world’s largest digital-freight platform by gross transaction value last year, could soon go public at a valuation of over $1 billion. 
  • In response to increased demand for cold storage for vaccines, UPS is touting UPS Cold Chain Solutions as a service for transporting, storing and tracking healthcare products requiring cold storage. 
  • Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy is providing direct delivery of digital orders, with employees dubbed “Blue Shirts” using company branded vehicles for deliveries. 
  • 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

  • U.S. COVID-19 cases have plummeted by more than 50% since the beginning of the month, with the country vaccinating roughly 1.7 million people per day. The U.S. reported 27,525 new infections and 1,338 deaths for Thursday. 
  • A new study shows that 73% of patients with moderate-to-severe COVID-19 infections had at least one lingering symptom of the disease 60 days after being diagnosed. 
  • North Carolina added an additional 849 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, becoming the tenth state to log over 1 million total infections. 
  • Maryland announced it was adding over 500 previously uncounted COVID-19 deaths to its total tally. The state’s COVID-19 positivity rate has dropped below 2% for the first time since reporting began. 
  • Arizona added more than 700 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, its highest number of infections in almost two weeks. 
  • Pennsylvania will end its mask mandate either by June 28 or when 70% of its adult population has been fully vaccinated, while Hawaii lifted its outdoor mask mandate earlier this week. 
  • CaliforniaHawaii and Arkansas joined the growing list of states considering or implementing multimillion-dollar incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Black residents comprise more than 80% of Washington, D.C.’s recent COVID-19 cases, highlighting racial disparities involving the vaccine rollout in the nation’s capital. 
  • With COVID-19 testing declining, the federal government is funding a program to track and predict COVID-19 outbreaks through monitoring wastewater data
  • Johnson & Johnson vaccine production could resume at a beleaguered plant in Baltimore, Maryland, following an expected FDA clearance in the coming days. 
  • Rising lumber costs are starting to take their toll on the farming industry, with Sanderson Farms delaying construction of a new chicken processing plant despite a significant rise in poultry demand. 
  • The White House is proposing a $6 trillion budget for fiscal 2022, including roughly $1.5 trillion for military and domestic programs along with increased investments in education, healthcare, research and renewable energy. 
  • Senate lawmakers have proposed a $928 billion counteroffer to the White House’s $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan for funding roads, bridges, rail and transit systems over the next eight years. 
  • The Senate Finance Committee advanced legislation that would maintain consumer incentives for electric vehicles and end historic subsidies for fossil fuel industries. 
  • Historic low mortgage rates continue, with the average rate on a 30-year mortgage falling below 3% last week. 
  • Core consumer inflation rose 3.1% year over year in April. An index of prices for leisure products and services was up 7.5%, with car and truck rentals up 45%.
  • Spurred by a growing number of vaccinated Americans eager to travel, the cost of airline tickets jumped 10.2% month over month in April. 
  • Boeing indefinitely halted deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner jets after regulators requested more information about the company’s solution to quality lapses that previously suspended deliveries of the aircraft for five months. 
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises has been given the all-clear by the CDC to resume sailing out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, beginning June 26 provided that 95% of passengers and crew are fully vaccinated. But uncertainties loom because of Florida’s recent mandate barring companies from using vaccine passports.   
  • Sales for big-box retailer Costco jumped 22% in the first quarter from the prior year, but the company warned about rising labor and goods costs.
  • Consumer goods company Unilever is changing its packaging for toothpaste products, with plans to use recyclable tubes for several of its brands later this year. 
  • U.S. exports of scrap plastic were up 7% in the first quarter from the prior-year period, with Canada and Mexico importing 43% of the material. 

International

  • Total COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia surpassed 30 million today.  
  • India reported 186,364 new COVID-19 cases Friday, its lowest daily tally since April 14, as virus deaths hit 3,660. At least 140,000 Indians have died from the disease since mid-April. 
  • Taiwan, struggling under a COVID-19 surge, hopes to have at least one vaccine shot in 60% of the population by October.  
  • The Philippines recorded 8,748 COVID-19 cases today, its highest daily infections in a month.  
  • Japan extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions by three weeks on Friday, as the country saw a record number of COVID-19 patients in critical condition despite slowing infection numbers. 
  • Victoria, Australia’s second-largest state, is set to enter its fourth lockdown of the pandemic for the next seven days, hoping to combat a recent uptick in cases. 
  • The number of pregnant women in Brazil dying from COVID-19 has more than doubled in the past year, likely due to increased prevalence of the highly infectious Amazon mutation of the virus. The prolonged severity of COVID-19 in the country was likely worsened by the government’s non-response to an offer of 70 million Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses last August. 
  • Brazil’s Butantan Institute is hoping to supply at least 40 million doses of its own COVID-19 vaccine by the fourth quarter of this year. 
  • The U.K. might delay a planned reopening past June 21 due to rising cases of the virulent COVID-19 strain first discovered in India. The country reported more than 3,500 new COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths on Thursday. 
  • Sweden reported 1,366 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, its lowest number of daily cases in seven months, as the country plans to relax some of its pandemic restrictions beginning June 1.
  • The Czech Republic reopened bars, restaurants and clubs in a quickened easing of many COVID-19 restrictions Friday.
  • Portugal is reporting a 4.8-billion-euro deficit for the first four months of the year, almost three times higher than a year ago, a result of the country’s massive spending used to support businesses and families during lockdown measures. 
  • The EU drugs regulator has approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in children as young as 12 years old. 
  • By the end of the week, at least half of Ireland’s adult population will have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • International vaccine-sharing alliance COVAX needs an extra 190 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of June to make up for a lack of exports from India. 
  • France is hoping to deliver 30 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa by the end of the year, with the country’s president saying it is in the world’s interest to get the region vaccines and prevent new variants of the virus from emerging. 
  • Production delays at U.S. facilities has left drugmaker Johnson & Johnson unsure if it will be able to meet its goal of sending 55 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the EU by the end of the second quarter.
  • Russia has agreed to supply the United Nations children’s fund UNICEF with COVID-19 vaccines for roughly 110 million people, contingent on the shot’s approval by the World Health Organization. The nation has backed away from efforts to require its citizens to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Researchers in Germany say they have identified the cause of rare blood blots linked to the COVID-19 vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson and believe they know how to tweak the jabs to mitigate the risk. 
  • New research shows the China-made Sinopharm vaccine is 73% to 78% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19.  
  • An expert advisory group is urging the Canadian government to drop its 14-day quarantine requirement for arriving travelers who have been fully vaccinated.  
  • Unemployment in Brazil hit a record high 14.7% in the first quarter as the nation fights its latest COVID-19 wave. 
  • Business optimism is at a four-year high in the U.K., with increases among all market sectors.  
  • GDP in Sweden returned to its pre-pandemic level in the first quarter.  
  • Nissan is partnering with China-based battery maker Envision AESC to invest more than $1.8 billion in new electric vehicle battery plants in the U.K. and Japan. 

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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