COVID-19 Bulletin: August 3

August 3, 2020 • Posted in News

Good Afternoon,

More COVID-19 news relevant to the plastics industry:

Supply

  • Crude prices were higher in mid-day trading today, with the WTI up 1.9% at $41.33/bbl and Brent up 1.5% at $44.17/bbl.
  • Marathon Petroleum will sell its Speedway chain of gas stations to 7-Eleven for $21 billion, the largest deal this year in the petrochemicals industry.
  • Marathon is permanently closing two of its smaller refineries in Martinez, California, and Gallup, New Mexico, that it temporarily idled earlier during the pandemic with a loss of 800 jobs.
  • Global refinery operating rates are expected to be the lowest in 37 years in 2020 as refiners brace for a long recovery, with demand from the aviation market expected to be especially anemic. 
  • Global exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) were down 9.4% in July compared with the prior-year period, with U.S. exports down 40%.
  • The workforce of the oil industry is being permanently reshaped as major oil-field service companies accelerate their embrace of remote drilling and fracking.
  • Houston-area bankruptcy courts have recorded 185 bankruptcies this year, up 43% from the year-ago period.
  • A new report from the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives questions the effectiveness and viability of chemical recycling as a solution to plastic waste issues.

Supply Chain

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection is expecting to issue new rules today to require greater origin disclosure on import shipments worth less than $800 to reduce illegal and counterfeit goods from entering the country. Previously, shipments worth less than $800 were exempt from such disclosure requirements.
  • Private equity players Blackstone Group and Global Infrastructure Partners are considering a $20+ billion bid to acquire Kansas City Southern, one of the nation’s big-five railroads, and its network of routes connecting the U.S. and Mexico.
  • A surge in U.S. business failures is leaving product stranded in global supply chains and suppliers unpaid, since vendors have a lower priority than secured creditors in bankruptcies.
  • The pandemic is aggravating a driver shortage in the U.S. trucking industry, with many drivers choosing not to return from furloughs and the country expected to produce 40% fewer new drivers this year.
  • We’re seeing delivery challenges with LTL shipments caused by labor shortages and operational delays from COVID-19 protocols now spreading to truckload shipping. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help assure delivery dates will be met.
  • Beyond the transportation challenges, our Gold Standard logistics partners and U.S. ports continue to operate without interruption.

Markets

  • The U.S. recorded 47,000 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, the lowest daily total in nearly a month.
  • New COVID-19 cases appear to be plateauing in hotspots Arizona, California, Florida and Texas.
  • The CDC estimated that COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. could reach 182,000 during the next three weeks, noting that the virus has entered “a new phase” given its pervasive spread and presence in both urban and rural areas.
  • U.S. manufacturing activity improved more than expected in July, with the Purchasing Managers’ Index rising to 54.2 from 52.6 in June.
  • Of more than 150 potential COVID-19 vaccines in development around the world, seven show promise.
  • Dogs, with their advanced sense of smell, have been trained to detect COVID-19 with 94% accuracy, providing a potential new weapon in identifying those who are asymptomatic.
  • Tropical Storm Isaias brushed Florida with heavy rain and winds yesterday and is expected to return to hurricane strength today as it targets the Carolina coast.
  • April and May saw the two biggest monthly drops in revolving credit on record as consumers, flush with money from stimulus programs, used the funds to reduce their debts.
  • With many economic stimulus programs lapsed, leaders in Washington failed to agree on a new recovery package, prompting the White House to explore unilateral actions it might take.
  • Credit agency Fitch lowered its rating for the U.S. to “negative” from “stable,” citing a “deterioration in the U.S. public finances and the absence of a credible fiscal consolidation plan.”
  • Major health insurers are non-committal on whether they will continue to pay full costs for telemedicine, posing a risk to its long-term adoption.
  • The Harvard Global Health Institute launched a Pandemics Explained website with an interactive map assessing county-by-county risk in the United States.
  • Global COVID-19 cases passed 18 million over the weekend.

International

  • Latin America, which has 8% of the world’s population, now accounts for nearly 5 million of the COVID-19 case count, over 30% of the global total. Colombia suffered record daily infections yesterday.
  • Mexico passed the U.K. with the third highest COVID-19 death rate globally behind the U.S. and Brazil.
  • Last week, some European countries saw new cases rise to the highest levels in a month, prompting concerns about a second COVID-19 wave and prompting some to reimpose restrictions.
  • Manufacturing activity in the U.K. rose in July at the fastest pace in three years with the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) increasing to 53.3 from 50.1 in June.
  • South Africa’s PMI slipped in July to 51.2 from 53.9 in June as the country struggled to contain a surge in COVID-19 infections.
  • Vietnam’s prime minister warned that early August will be decisive in beating back an outbreak that began in Danang as officials in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City imposed restrictions.
  • In Australia, Melbourne instituted a Phase 4 lockdown, including curfews, to contain a COVID-19 outbreak, and Victoria, the country’s second largest city, declared “A State of Disaster” as it fights a COVID-19 surge as well as an avian influenza infection affecting its poultry industry.
  • The global airline industry is recovering more slowly than expected, prompting the International Air Transport Association to extend its timeline for a recovery to pre-pandemic levels by a year to 2024.
  • The Asian Development Bank projects that global remittances could fall by $109 billion this year as the pandemic disproportionately impacts migrant workers, posing economic risks to households in developing nations.

Our Operations

  • 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. For more information and to register, please visit our website.
  • To access 3D Printing training, order parts and seek technical assistance, visit our new online resource.
  • Resource Center: M. Holland offers a host of resources to clients, prospects and suppliers. To arrange a videoconference or meeting, contact:
  • 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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