COVID-19 Bulletin: September 14

September 14, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

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Supply

  • Oil prices rose to six-week highs Monday following continued disruption caused by Hurricane Ida, with at least 50% of U.S. offshore production still offline two weeks after the storm. The International Energy Agency warned that Ida’s production hits will offset OPEC’s gradual output ramp-up for the next several weeks, and that oil inventories won’t be fully replenished until early 2022
  • Energy prices were higher in mid-morning trading, with WTI up 0.2% at $70.59/bbl and Brent up 0.2% at $73.68/bbl. Natural gas was 1.0% higher at $5.28/MMBtu. 
  • The U.S. government will sell 20 million barrels of crude oil from its emergency reserves to eight companies, including Exxon, Chevron and Valero, amid continued supply concerns following Hurricane Ida. 
  • OPEC bucked expectations and raised its 2022 oil demand forecast to 100.8 million bpd, the first cartel forecast above pre-pandemic demand levels. 
  • Electricity prices are skyrocketing in Spain, where lawmakers unveiled measures that will cap gas prices, cut some taxes and redirect energy company profits. 
  • A queue of tankers is stacked up at Qatar’s Port of Ras Laffan to load liquefied natural gas, an indication of tight natural gas markets globally. 
  • The U.S., EU, South Korea and several other countries are set to unveil a plan that would halt export-financing agencies from supporting coal-fired power projects overseas. 
  • Chevron plans to more than triple investment in its low-carbon unit to $10 billion through 2028.  
  • U.S. pipeline operator Kinder Morgan announced plans to modify existing tank and piping infrastructure in Louisiana to hold used cooking oil and other feedstocks for Finnish renewable energy company Neste, hoping to increase its supply of renewable fuels. 
  • The U.K. unveiled its largest ever auction of new contracts for renewable energy production, part of a plan to boost offshore wind capacity to eventually power 8 million homes.  
  • Engine 1, the environmentally focused investment firm that recently won seats on Exxon’s board, plans to publish its “total value framework” for assessing a company’s sustainability value as an alternative to traditional measures of environmental, social and governance performance. 
  • Michelin hopes to incorporate recycled PET into its tires by 2024 with the goal of selling fully sustainable tires by 2050.   
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • Hurricane Nicholas was downgraded to a tropical storm early Tuesday as it made landfall in Texas, bringing heavy rains, strong winds and storm surges to the state’s central and upper coasts. The storm could cause life-threatening flash floods across the deep south for the next several days and is expected to disrupt some Hurricane Ida-related power restoration. 
    • Southwestern Texas port authorities ordered slow-moving vessels to vacate the area to avoid damage. 
    • The Houston Ship Channel halted all inbound and outbound transit Monday afternoon as it prepared for landfall of Tropical Storm Nicholas. 
    • We are aware of some logistics providers in Houston suspending operations as a precaution as Nicholas drenches the region.  
  • U.S. insurers expect to take up to $30 billion in losses for damage caused by Hurricane Ida. 
  • Increased shortages of metals, plastics, wood and glass in the U.S. are sparking fears of sustained inflation.
  • The average spot rate for large bulk carriers rose by $6,736 Monday to $52,908, the highest level in more than a decade. 
  • Smaller trucking companies hope to poach drivers from larger firms due to the federal government’s new requirement that companies with more than 100 workers mandate COVID-19 vaccines or weekly testing.  
  • Port congestion on the West Coast could impact up to $90 billion in goods this holiday season.  
  • Amazon plans to hire 125,000 workers as the holiday season approaches and will add 100 new warehousing locations in September. The company is now the nation’s second largest private employer.  
  • Spot prices for Chinese lithium have risen 170% this year to $22,000 per ton, the highest price in three years on a surge of global electric vehicle sales. 
  • Toyota will invest $14 billion through 2030 to boost its battery production capacity from 6 GWh per year to 200 GWh per year, while expanding its assembly network from two to 70 lines. 
  • European auto and steelmakers are accelerating efforts to develop lower-carbon steel for car manufacturing, a response to increased pressure from climate-focused stakeholders.  
  • GM is investing in U.S. radar firm Oculii to improve camera speed and resolution for its nascent autonomous vehicles.  
Cars Increasingly Ready for Autonomous Driving

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 262,049 new COVID-19 cases and 2,136 virus fatalities Monday. 
  • Nearly 74% of eligible Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, with the country falling to 18th among nations with the highest vaccination rates.  
  • The Safe Travel Act, introduced in the House of Representatives, would require airline and train passengers to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to travel. 
  • More than 243,000 U.S. children tested positive for COVID-19 last week, accounting for nearly 29% of all new cases in the country. 
  • Idaho hospitals have begun sending COVID-19 patients to neighbor Washington state due to overcrowding. 
  • Florida’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 2,448 last week, the most since the start of the pandemic. The state’s governor announced fines to local officials who fire unvaccinated employees. 
  • Tennessee recorded 15,411 new COVID-19 cases on Sept. 10, a pandemic record. 
  • North Carolina reported more than 11,000 new COVID-19 infections Saturday, the most since February’s peak. 
  • Total COVID-19 hospitalizations in Virginia rose to 2,103 Monday, with 538 patients in ICUs, the most since February, as a growing number of emergency rooms report little or no capacity
  • New Jersey’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 infections rose to 1,799 Monday, up 26% from a month ago. 
  • Ohio reported 45,427 new COVID-19 cases last week, its 10th consecutive weekly gain and the most since January. 
  • Alabama will require people under age 19 to receive parental consent to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in its public-school clinics. 
  • New York City began enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the vast majority of indoor activities Monday, the same day it reopened public schools for the first time in 18 months without an option for remote learning. 
  • The 2,000-member Consumer Brands Association is requesting White House guidance on how private businesses should carry out vaccine mandates in the U.S.’s recently unveiled six-prong plan for the pandemic. 
  • New data shows more than 12 million Americans continue to suffer “long-haul” symptoms of COVID-19 months after contracting the virus, prompting calls for greater resources dedicated to study and treatment of the condition. 
  • A new survey of Americans shows that roughly 1 in 7 people have ended friendships over differing stances on COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • U.S. home appliance company Whirlpool is offering employees $1,000 to get vaccinated against COVID-19, up from an earlier $200 incentive in May. 
  • As companies COVID-proof facilities for a safe return to offices, commuters confront a new fear: the risks of transit to work
  • Consumer inflation eased to 5.3% year over year in August, down from the 6.6% pace of the second quarter. Inflation expectations among U.S. consumers rose to their highest levels since 2013 in August, the 10th consecutive month of rising inflation concern. 
  • Business jet-maker Bombardier is launching a new version of its Challenger 350 plane, a bid to capitalize on the rebound in high-end private corporate travel. 

International Markets

  • China locked down the southeastern manufacturing hub of Xiamen, a city of 4.5 million, following 12 new COVID-19 cases. Separately, the country closed schools in the south and ordered testing of the 3.2 million residents of Putian after an outbreak among unvaccinated schoolchildren.  
  • Russia’s president is self-isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak at the Kremlin.  
  • The U.K. reported 30,825 new COVID-19 cases Monday, as the country announced plans to expand COVID-19 vaccine offerings to children as young as 12 and provide booster shots for the most vulnerable.  
The Vaccination Effect on Covid-19 Deaths
  • Australia extended its lockdown in capital city Canberra until Oct. 15 due to continuing COVID-19 infections, while New South Wales state reported 1,257 new cases and seven virus deaths Monday, remaining near recent highs, and the state’s government warned that vaccination numbers are dwindling. The country has begun vaccinating children as young as 12 against COVID-19. 
  • Despite an 84% vaccination rate, Singapore reported 607 new COVID-19 cases Monday, the most in a year, and a tenfold increase from one month prior, while the number of hospitalized patients needing oxygen rose to a record 54 on Sunday. 
  • The Philippines will begin testing a new COVID-19 strategy that uses algorithms to target lockdowns to specific and limited populations while offering perks to those vaccinated against the virus. 
  • Germany has begun a week-long COVID-19 vaccination campaign that will give out free shots at many popular gathering places. 
  • Ukraine will begin using COVID-19 vaccine passports to allow businesses to operate without pandemic restrictions. 
  • The U.S. CDC lowered its COVID-19 travel advisory for Brazil to Level 3 amid a decrease in the country’s infection numbers.
  • A panel of global scientists say most people do not need COVID-19 booster shots due to high efficacy levels in the existing two-shot regimen.
  • Latin America is experiencing an alarming rise in inflation, forcing central banks to tighten monetary policy despite economic uncertainty.  
  • Japan’s wholesale inflation rate rose to a 13-year high of 5.5% in August, pressuring companies to pass on the costs to households. Economists cut their third-quarter growth forecast for Japan to 1.2% from 4.2% forecast in July because of surging COVID-19 infections. 
  • Australian scientists discovered that adding sugar to lithium sulfur batteries can increase capacity fivefold, a potential boon for smartphone and electric-vehicle battery technology.  
  • LG Electronics is aiming to repurpose roughly 600,000 metric tons of recycled plastic by 2030 as part of a goal to increase the use of post-consumer recycled materials in its consumer electronics and home appliances. 

At M. Holland

  • 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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