COVID-19 Bulletin: August 14

August 14, 2020 • Posted in News

Good Afternoon,

More COVID-19 news relevant to the plastics industry:

Supply

  • Crude prices were down in early trading today, with the WTI at $42.20/bbl and Brent at $44.98/bbl.
  • Oil markets were rattled yesterday over U.S.-Iranian tensions, with Iran briefly seizing a Liberian flagged tanker near the Strait of Hormuz and the U.S. seizing four tankers allegedly carrying Iranian oil bound for Venezuela.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may extend its rescission of methane regulations in the oil and gas industry to other industrial pollutants; six former heads of the EPA called for a reset of the agency after the election.
  • The U.S. trails Europe and Asia in growing its offshore wind industry due to political and regulatory hurdles.
  • We are seeing resin supplies tighten in commodity markets. 

Supply Chain

  • U.S. seaborne imports jumped 16% in July from June but remained 3.9% below the prior-year period as retailers ramp up for the holiday season. Total container imports are expected to be down 9.4% for the year.
  • The White House Coronavirus Task Force urged Georgia to issue a statewide face mask mandate and strict lockdown procedures to combat runaway infection rates there.
  • Lowe’s will spend $1.7 billion to beef up its logistics capability with dozens of additional distribution and shipment-handling sites and four new e-commerce fulfillment centers.
  • With the pandemic exposing weaknesses in food supply chains, a growing cadre of online networks are connecting farmers with surplus food to those in need, thus reducing food waste and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Freight markets remain challenged. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates will be met.
  • We’re seeing rising spot freight pricing due to capacity constraints in the industry.
  • Beyond the transportation challenges, our Gold Standard logistics partners and U.S. ports continue to operate without interruption.

Markets

  • The U.S. reported 56,000 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, the highest count in four days with 13 states experiencing rising seven-day average infection rates.
  • With the influenza season approaching and COVID-19 spreading, the director of the CDC warned that the U.S. is facing “the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had.”
  • U.S. COVID-19 deaths could top 500,000 this year, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
  • The rebound in U.S. retail sales slowed in July to a 1.3% gain over the prior-month level, below economist estimates but back to February’s levels.
  • U.S. bankruptcies are at a 10-year high, with consumer-facing and oil-and-gas the hardest-hit sectors.
US Bankruptcies at 10-Year High
  • With the U.S. Senate on recess until September 8, the biggest sticking point in negotiations on a stimulus bill appears to be aid to states.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sought direction from the Treasury Department concerning “significant questions” and confusion related to the administration’s recent executive order deferring payroll taxes for the remainder of the year.
  • Suburban and urban areas are seeing similar strong demand and pricing trends in the hot housing market, while rents in urban areas have fallen faster than in suburban areas.
  • Houston housing sales and prices were at record highs in July on a spike in pent-up demand following the region’s COVID-19 surge.
  • The federal government, in planning the eventual distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, on Thursday pledged free access when a successful candidate emerges.
  • Airports are seeking creative ways to stay afloat while they await a return of passenger traffic, from promoting their retail hubs as shopping destinations to hosting drive-in movies in parking lots to converting parking space into solar farms.
  • American Airlines has resumed serving hot foods in its Admirals Club lounges while grounded travelers have taken to ordering their favorite in-flight snacks online
  • After construction delays due to the pandemic, Toyota and Mazda plan to invest $830 million more for advanced manufacturing technology in their joint production facility being built in Huntsville, Alabama.
  • The pandemic is expected to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicles.
  • Michigan, long the U.S. capital of combustion engine vehicles, now intends to be a hub for autonomous vehicle development with plans to create dedicated roadways for them. The state’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy also is subsidizing the installation of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles.
  • Plastic surgeons are enjoying booming business from patients seeking to improve their video appearance.
  • Global COVID-19 cases approached 21 million this morning. 

International

  • Manufacturing activity in Canada jumped a higher-than-expected 20.7% in June, led by the reopening of the automotive sector.
  • European countries are re-imposing tough restrictions in the wake of rising infection rates spawned by traveling vacationers.
  • The U.K. expanded its 14-day quarantine mandate to people returning from France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta and high-infection Caribbean nations.
Countries on the UK's High Risk Travel List
  • The German government, tying economic progress to the course of the pandemic, expects a long road to economic recovery after an initial bounce in the third quarter off pandemic lows. Exports remain at only 83% or pre-pandemic levels, and the country has recorded four straight days with new COVID-19 cases exceeding 1,000.
  • New Zealand, which went over three months without a COVID-19 infection, has extended its lockdown for 12 more days after a recent outbreak in Auckland, its largest city, continued to spread. 
  • Immersed in a wave of COVID-19 infections fueled by political unrest, Hong Kong’s government expects a deeper recession than previously forecast, with GDP down 6% to 8% in 2020, the steepest drop in history. 
  • South Korea, lauded for its effective response in controlling the pandemic, is facing a second wave with a high percentage of infections of unknown origin.
  • The U.S. government is recruiting scientists in Latin America and South Africa to help test potential vaccines, pledging to provide access to any successful candidates.

Our Operations

  • We are proud that Crain’s Chicago Business has ranked M. Holland as one of its Top 100 Best Places to Work.
  • Join us for our next Fireside Chat on August 19. Panelists from M. Holland and Plante Moran will discuss the new USMCA and how it will impact businesses, the economy and the plastics industry. Register here to gain insight from the following panelists:
    • Alejandro Rodriguez, Principal and Country Manager, Mexico at Plante Moran
    • Lou Longo, International Consulting Practice Leader at Plante Moran
    • Dwight Morgan, Executive Vice President, Corporate Development at M. Holland 
    • Eugenio Calderón,Vice President, International at M. Holland
  • To access 3D Printing training, order parts and seek technical assistance, visit our new online resource.
  • 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.
  • M. Holland’s official status statement is available here.

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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