COVID-19 Bulletin: November 24

November 24, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

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Supply

  • U.S. benchmark WTI rose 2.3% Tuesday despite the U.S.-led release of crude reserves by five major nations, with the industry recognizing the less than 100-million-bpd boost will have a marginal effect on global supply. Brent ended the day up 3.3%
  • The American Petroleum Institute reported a surprise build in U.S. crude inventories last week, though supplies remain lower than at the beginning of the year. 
  • Energy futures inched higher in late morning trading today amid speculation that OPEC could reduce monthly production increases in response to the U.S.-led release of crude reserves. WTI was up 0.4% at $78.80/bbl and Brent was up 0.4% at $82.67/bbl. U.S. natural gas was 1.0% higher at $5.02/MMBtu.
  • Wholesale U.S. gas prices rose 3.4% Tuesday, with the average price for a gallon of gas hitting $3.40, up 61% from a year ago ahead of the busy Thanksgiving travel weekend.
  • The Keystone XL pipeline’s parent company is seeking $15 billion in damages after the federal government revoked its permits this year after significant construction was already completed. 
  • Record-high European gas prices could rise even more if Russia makes good on a threat to cut off deliveries to the Eastern European hub of Moldova over non-payment. 
  • Germany’s E.ON, the largest energy operator in Europe, will invest over $30 billion in clean energy by 2026, including plans to add 5,000 new electric-vehicle charging points.  
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.

Supply Chain

  • Road traffic between the Port of Vancouver, Canada’s busiest, and the rest of the country remained largely suspended Tuesday in the wake of last week’s severe flooding and landslides. Canadian shippers are scrambling for extra warehouse space and alternative routes to move stranded cargo inland, while Air Canada increased its cargo capacity at Vancouver International Airport. 
  • Canadian Pacific Railway restarted some services Tuesday, while Canadian National Railway plans to reopen limited traffic on the Kamloops-Vancouver corridor later today. 
  • Containers waited to be picked up from Southern California ports an average of 7.64 days in October, a record high. 
  • China-to-Europe rail freight volumes were up 26% the first 10 months of 2021, new data shows. 
  • Alabama’s Montgomery Transport is imposing a 5 cents/mile “Driver Shortage” surcharge through the busy holiday shipping season. 
  • Samsung officially announced plans for a $17 billion advanced chipmaking plant to go live at the end of 2024 in Taylor, Texas, some 30 miles from the firm’s Austin manufacturing hub. The move rivals Intel’s recently announced plans for a $12 billion facility in Arizona set to start production in the same time frame. 
  • Clothing retailer Gap reported $3.9 billion in third-quarter sales, flat from 2020 and down 1% from 2019 on extended pandemic-related factory closures in Asia and clogged ports. Similar results were widely reported among mall-based apparel retailers including Abercrombie & Fitch, Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters. 
  • General Mills will increase prices across dozens of consumer brands in mid-January, with some items going up as much as 20%
  • Supermarket chains Winn-Dixie and Publix are limiting the number of food staples customers can buy in the run up to Thanksgiving, while new data suggests Thanksgiving dinner bills are up 14% from a year ago amid rising food inflation. 
Inflations Woes Affect Thanksgiving Dinner

  • EU member nations as well as China, Russia and India have rejected a 2050 zero-emissions resolution for international marine shippers. 
  • For a partial list of automotive disruptions caused by semiconductor and component shortages, click here.

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 92,609 new COVID-19 infections and 1,426 virus fatalities yesterday. 
  • COVID-19 cases in U.S. children are up 32% the past two weeks, accounting for a quarter of the nation’s entire caseload for the week ending Nov. 18. 
  • Minnesota reported 11,455 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and a virus positivity rate of 11%, the highest since December 2020, as federal emergency relief teams were deployed to two of the state’s hospitals.
  • Michigan is nearing its previous record of COVID-19 hospitalizations with 3,785 total patients as of Sunday, the majority of whom are unvaccinated. The state has requested emergency federal assistance to help staff overwhelmed hospitals. 
  • Rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Colorado have prompted three Denver-area counties to reimpose mask mandates
  • New Hampshire, experiencing record COVID-19 hospitalizations, is creating inpatient surge centers at ambulatory surgical centers and outpatient clinics.  
  • Chicago’s mayor says the city will have 77% of its population inoculated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Thanksgiving, weeks ahead of its year-end target. 
  • A growing number of U.S. colleges and universities are ending indoor mask mandates despite the nationwide increase of COVID-19, with health officials worried about virus spread as students travel for the holidays. 
  • New York City is seeing a slower pandemic recovery than its U.S. counterparts, regaining just 56% of lost jobs as of September compared to the 71% rate in most other major metro areas. The city’s hotel occupancy rate is expected to remain at 56% in the fourth quarter, largely unchanged from Q3. 
  • The U.S. administration indicated it will not require COVID-19 vaccines for domestic air travelers, although mask mandates will likely remain. 
  • All legal challenges to the White House’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on large businesses have been consolidated in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the federal government moving quickly to vacate previous orders halting the mandate. 
  • GM, Ford and Stellantis will extend mask-wearing requirements for plant workers as challenges to the White House’s vaccine mandate work their way through the legal system. 
  • More than 40,000 American healthcare providers will begin receiving their share of $7.5 billion in emergency pandemic aid from the federal government. 
  • A new poll shows that 67% of Americans plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family outside of their own household. 
  • AAA predicts 48.3 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday period, an increase of nearly 4 million over last year despite sharply higher gas prices. 
Air Travel Returns For Second Pandemic Thanksgiving
  • First time jobless claims fell to 199,000 last week, below pre-pandemic levels and the lowest since 1969. 
  • Consumer spending rose 1.3% month over month in October, while personal income increased 0.5%. 
  • U.S. services and manufacturing activity softened in November on inflation worries, supply disruptions and labor shortages, with IHS Markit’s purchasing managers index dropping to 56.5 from 57.6 in October. Higher prices for goods this month matched October’s record level, as firms continue passing on increases to customers. 
  • U.S. retailers are seeing a slowdown in e-commerce sales amid a return to in-person shopping, with consumers spending nearly $640 billion in retail stores and restaurants in October compared to $520 billion a year earlier.
Where Americans Shop For the Holidays
  • Hewlett-Packard reported $16.7 billion in third-quarter sales, up 9.3% from the same time last year on substantial growth in commercial PC demand.
  • GM will begin deliveries of its electric Hummer pickup truck in December, with the vehicle capable of hauling up to 1,300 pounds and driving 329 miles on a single charge.

International Markets

  • The World Health Organization warned that Europe could see more than 700,000 new COVID-19 deaths by next spring, topping 2 million total, a grim outlook amid rising cases across the continent. EU member nations are wrangling over uniform guidelines for vaccine boosters
  • The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in Germany has doubled in just two weeks, with 360,000 doses administered Monday following rumors the government will mandate shots for the general public. The nation reported 68,049 new infections Tuesday, just shy of the record set earlier this month. 
  • New COVID-19 cases in France reached more than 30,000 in just the past 24 hours. The nation’s prime minister tested positive for the virus. 
  • COVID-19 cases are up in 75% of British localities, new data shows, as the nation reported 42,484 new infections Tuesday.
  • Twenty towns in northern Italy, the least vaccinated region of the country, went into lockdown to try to save the tourist season as COVID-19 infections soar. Italy is shortening the amount of time needed before people can get COVID-19 booster doses to five months
  • Weekly COVID-19 infections are up 39% in the Netherlands, prompting officials to reimpose restrictions and consider banning unvaccinated people from indoor public spaces.  
  • New COVID-19 cases in Poland surged by more than 7,000 from Monday to Tuesday. 
  • The Czech Republic is considering making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for everyone over age 60
  • Austria’s new pandemic lockdown, among Europe’s strictest, could cost the nation up to $1.35 billion per week and force more than 400,000 workers into unemployment, economists predict.  
  • Helsinki, Finland’s capital and largest city, is recommending all workers return to remote work arrangements amid rising COVID-19 cases. 
  • Ukraine has ordered 25 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to help combat a recent wave of infections. 
  • The U.S. administration issued formal warnings against traveling to Germany and Denmark due to surges of COVID-19. 
  • Spanish researchers are letting other manufacturers make their COVID-19 antibody test, a bid to increase testing in low-income nations. 
  • Israel has begun administering COVID-19 vaccine doses to children as young as age 5
  • South Korea reported 4,116 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, a record. 
  • Tokyo reported just six new COVID-19 cases Monday, its lowest daily total since May 2020. Researchers suggest that the Delta variant may have been eradicated from the nation. 
  • Indonesia has now administered at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to half its population
  • Disappointing new data suggests India’s homegrown COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, is only 50% effective in preventing symptomatic disease. 
  • Johnson & Johnson won regulatory approval for its COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, its first full approval. 
  • AstraZeneca opened a new $1.34 billion research center in Cambridge for further expansion of COVID-19 vaccine technology.  
  • A gauge of consumer confidence in Germany dropped for a fifth straight month to its lowest level since April, with expectations for next year also worsening. 
  • Foreign mergers and acquisitions deals fell 34% in 2020 across the globe, data shows. 

At M. Holland

  • M. Holland’s U.S. and Puerto Rico offices will be closed Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • 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.

For all COVID-19 updates and notices, please refer to the M. Holland website.

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