COVID-19 Bulletin: August 17

August 17, 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 $41.89/bbl and Brent at $44.62/bbl.
  • The oil tanker grounded in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Mauritius broke apart over the weekend, dumping the remainder of its 4,000-ton payload and prompting frantic efforts to save the island nation’s delicate coral reefs and marine life.
  • Big oil companies in Europe, where wind and solar are thriving, are leading a shift to alternative energy sources ahead of America’s majors.
Where Solar And Wind Power Are Thriving
  • Oklahoma-based Chaparral Energy became the latest shale producer to reorganize under bankruptcy protection, its second bankruptcy in four years.
  • Navigation app Waze has introduced a contactless pay feature for purchases at Exxon, Mobil and Shell stations.
  • Covestro projected better-than-expected results for the current quarter on strong sales of plastics for electronic devices and furniture foam.
  • We are seeing resin supplies tighten in commodity markets. 

Supply Chain

  • The U.S. Postal Service will temporarily raise parcel delivery fees between October 18 and December 27.
  • The U.S. Postal Service warned most states of delivery delays after taking aggressive cost-cutting measures, including reducing hours of operation, eliminating overtime, removing sorting equipment and decommissioning drop boxes in many areas.
  • India is gaining traction in luring companies away from China with attractive incentives.
  • Home Depot says historic metrics for running a business are no longer valid after preparing early in the pandemic for a steep downturn and then seeing foot traffic soar by 35% beginning in April as homebound consumers redirected vacation money and stimulus checks into home improvements.
  • California’s main electrical grid operator declared a Level 3 emergency in response to a record-breaking heat wave and warned the public of possible rolling power blackouts. The temperature in Death Valley, California, topped 130 degrees Fahrenheit, possibly a global record for the month of August.
  • 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

  • While U.S. COVID-19 deaths topped 170,000 over the weekend, yesterday’s death toll fell below 1,000 for the first time in seven days.
  • With daily COVID-19 infection counts dropping in Texas, health experts are concerned by a drop in demand for testing. Nationally, testing has dropped by 9% since July.
  • The pandemic has interfered with the complicated process of replacing Libor as the world’s interest-rate standard by the end of 2021, presenting risks for business and consumer borrowers. Libor is the peg for $3.4 trillion in commercial loans and $190 trillion in interest-rate derivatives.
  • Nearly 60% of unemployed workers do not expect to return to their old jobs.
  • The American Heart Association is committing $2.5 million to research recent assessments that COVID-19 is causing potentially deadly heart damage in 10% to 12% of its victims and up to 30% of those requiring hospitalization.
  • Medical wholesaler McKesson has been selected by the federal government as the main distributor for an eventual COVID-19 vaccine.
  • New vehicle inventories in the U.S. are at their lowest since 2011 as strong demand collides with pandemic-related production challenges among automotive manufacturers.
  • Tesla dominates the U.S. electric vehicle market:
Americas Best-Selling Electric Cars in First Half 2020
  • Bartenders are the latest to see robotic replacements invading their profession in the wake of COVID-19. 
  • The contraction in retailing has claimed the nation’s third largest commercial printer, century-old Arandell Holdings, which filed for bankruptcy after the collapse of its core catalog business.
  • In Japan, Starbucks has introduced restaurants with coworking space that patrons can book for remote working and studying.
  • Private bus companies are reeling from the drop in passengers, with one New York operator idling all its buses for the first time in its 150-year history.
  • Instant Pots are more effective in sanitizing N95 face masks than UV light. 
  • U.S. COVID-19 cases topped 5.4 million today.

International

  • COVID-19 deaths in India topped 50,000 Sunday. 
  • On Friday, India displaced the U.K. for fourth place among nations with the highest fatality rates, behind the U.S., Brazil and Mexico.
  • Japan’s economy shrank by nearly 28% in the quarter ended June 30 compared with the prior-year period, the largest contraction among developed nations.
  • China, facing tepid consumer spending, saw its economic recovery slow, with retail sales down 1.1% and factory activity up a less-than-expected 4.8% from the prior-year period.
  • South Korea, which has experienced four straight days of triple-digit infection rates, warned that the nation could be on the cusp of an “exponential” rise in cases that could tax its healthcare system.
  • Thailand’s GDP shrank by 12.2% year-over-year in the quarter ended June 30, and the government lowered its outlook for the year to a 7.3% to 7.8% contraction, among the worst in Asia.
  • British vacationers rushed home in advance of Saturday’s commencement date for new quarantine restrictions for travelers from many highly infected countries.
  • New Zealand’s prime minister, at the urging of opposition parties, will postpone elections for four weeks after the nation experienced a COVID-19 outbreak in Auckland, its most populous city.

Our Operations

  • We announced on Friday that our Northbrook and Chicago, Illinois, offices will remain closed at least through the end of the year.
  • We are moving and expanding our 3D Printing business unit to the mHUB manufacturing innovation complex in Chicago.
  • 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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