COVID-19 Bulletin: December 10

December 10, 2020 • Posted in News

Good Afternoon,

More news relevant to the plastics industry:

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Supply

  • Energy prices were higher in mid-day trading today, with WTI up 2.5% at $46.72/bbl, Brent up 2.6% at $50.16, and natural gas 4.2%% higher at $2.54/MMBtu.
  • Natural gas and propane are emerging as the leading choices for shippers moving to slash carbon emissions, with more than a quarter of ships on order slated to run on either of the two fuels.
  • The $226-billion New York State Common Retirement Fund will transition its portfolio to net-zero emission companies by 2040, including plans to divest of oil and gas companies that are not preparing for a shift toward renewables.
  • Canadian oil producer Whitecap Resources is buying rival TORC Oil & Gas in a stock deal worth more than $430 million, the most recent consolidation after a collapse in fuel demand due to virus-related lockdowns.
  • INEOS is buying a French Smart Car plant from Daimler to build its Grenadier SUV to compete with Land Rover as the chemicals company diversifies into automobile manufacturing.

Supply Chain

  • The global shortage of containers is blunting China’s economic rebound.
  • Mobilization of COVID-19 vaccines would help the struggling U.S. airline industry bring back parked jets and start reopening routes, while passenger travel demand remains around 40% of its 2019 levels with no signs of increasing until widespread vaccination.
  • Some carriers are seeking “outrageous” prices to fly COVID-19 vaccine equipment during the pre-holiday rush of shipments, the World Health Organization said. Meanwhile, the rush of pre-holiday shipments is forcing some online retailers, such as Amazon, to put product limits on third-party sellers to conserve warehouse space.
  • Uber’s package delivery service will be available in 2,400 new cities and towns, the company announced Wednesday.
  • New York City lawmakers are mulling a $3 surcharge on packages ordered online, with funds going to alleviate the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget crisis.
  • Toyota and three major convenience store operators in Japan will trial fuel-cell electric delivery trucks in 2021, which use hydrogen to generate electricity and do not emit carbon dioxide. Japan is betting heavily on fuel cell technology in its transportation sector:
Japan Aims for the Sky in Fuel Cell Car Adoption
  • German container shipper Hapag-Lloyd has raised its 2020 earnings guidance, expecting continued strength in market demand for container capacity.
  • Swedish automaker Volvo will stop selling Class 8 heavy-duty trucks in Mexico, citing pandemic-induced fallout that slumped truck sales in the country by nearly 50% in the first 10 months of 2020.
  • Logistics conditions continue to deteriorate, with trucking demand exceeding availability, growing congestion at ports, and backlogs at warehousing and packaging facilities due in part to operating challenges related to the pandemic. Shipping containers are in short supply, with demurrage charges rising. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates. 

Markets

  • There were 221,267 new COVID-19 infections in the U.S. yesterday as total infections surpassed 15 million.
  • COVID-19 claimed 3,124 American lives yesterday, ranking the virus third in American history for single-day fatalities behind the Galveston earthquake of 1900 (>8,000 fatalities) and the Civil War Battle of Antietam (3,650 fatalities).
  • COVID-19 fatalities during the first week of December doubled from the month-ago period, while Ohio, Washington, Alabama and Arizona all posted record high one-day case numbers so far this week.
  • Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf became the sixth state governor to test positive for COVID-19.
  • California surpassed Texas as the state with the most COVID-19 infections. The state’s 8.7% positivity rate has jumped 55% in two weeks and it continues to report record numbers of new infections. ICU hospitalizations in the state, meanwhile, have jumped 70% in the same period.
  • The Mayo Clinic indicated that COVID-19 long haulers may suffer lingering symptoms of the virus for a year or longer.
  • Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia report that children with COVID-19, including asymptomatic victims, suffer lasting cardiovascular damage.
  • A Food and Drug Administration committee will meet Thursday to consider final emergency approval for Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, with the first doses of the drug potentially shipping Friday. The U.S. will receive 2.9 million doses of the vaccine in the company’s first shipment, with an extra 500,000 being sent to the federal government to be held in reserve.
  • Chicago will offer all adults free COVID-19 vaccines in 2021, city officials announced Wednesday, as the nation’s third-largest city expects to receive its first batch of thousands of vaccines this month.
  • An AP News poll shows only half of Americans either won’t take or are skeptical of getting a COVID-19 vaccine and are potentially waiting for outcomes of the initial rollout in coming months.
  • Federal emergency medical agencies currently hold only about 142 million N95 masks in stockpiles, well short of a goal outlined in the spring to accumulate 300 million masks along with other personal protective equipment. 
  • Price gouging is contributing to the shortage of high-protection PPE gear in the U.S., with protective gowns going from $0.30 before the pandemic to $9.30 today, as one example.
  • The surge in COVID-19 cases took a toll on labor markets last week, with first-time jobless claims rising by 137,000 to 853,000.
  • Mortgage originations are on pace for a record year due to low interest rates during the pandemic.
  • More than half of U.S. employees currently working from home say they’d like to keep their remote arrangements, a new survey from the Pew Research Center says.
  • Starbucks has rebounded from the pandemic slump, boosting its outlook with plans to add 20,000 additional locations in the next decade.
  • With 3D printing gaining scale in industry, publicly traded Stratasys is acquiring startup Origin for $100 million. Earlier this year, unicorn Desktop Metal went public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition corporation.
  • Cobra Golf is using 3D printing to reduce weight and improve the center of gravity in its newest line of irons.
  • The Save Our Seas 2.0 recycling act passed both houses of Congress, allocating $55 million annually through 2025 for state and local governments to further “post-consumer materials management.”

International

  • A new report shows that the COVID-19 virus was present in Italy as early as late November of 2019, helping explain the country’s significantly worse virus experience compared to its European peers.
  • Japan and South Korea, formerly global models for COVID-19 containment, are both seeing record spikes in new infections compared to the spring, a sign of how elusive sustained progress can be until widespread vaccine rollouts.
  • Canada is the third country to authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for distribution to the public, with plans to start giving out shots to vulnerable citizens as early as next week.
  • Two British people with severe allergies experienced allergic reactions to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, prompting health officials to advise people prone to allergies to avoid getting vaccinated until more information is known.
  • More than half of the French population is skeptical about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, responding to a survey that they would probably not get vaccinated once rollouts begin.
  • cyberattack on drug maker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech has resulted in hackers accessing documents related to their COVID-19 vaccine development in Europe. The company says no personal data of trial participants was accessed and the company’s timeline for governmental approval has not been affected.
  • Rich countries have so far planned to acquire almost all Pfizer/BioNTech’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, while a report shows nearly 90% of people in poor countries may not be able to get a vaccine in 2021.
  • Late-stage trials in the United Arab Emirates have shown China’s COVID-19 vaccine to be 86% effective, a positive sign for the fight against the virus in developing countries that can’t access more expensive Western alternatives.
  • Border restrictions have created a scattered population of COVID-19 refugees, people stranded out of country, with Australians among the most impacted due to the country’s strict pandemic defenses.
  • The White House coronavirus task force recommended that bans be lifted for inbound travelers from Brazil, the U.K. and the European Union.
  • Airlines are getting rid of hefty international change fees in a bid to encourage more passenger flights next year.
  • The first “Covid-tested” flight arrived in Rome from New York on Wednesday, where passengers had to show a negative virus test within 48 hours of getting on the flight and were required to be tested on arrival as well.
  • Morgan Stanley is joining other major investment banks in shifting operations from London to Europe due to Brexit, announcing it will move $120 billion in managed assets to Frankfurt.
  • Mexico is considering raising its minimum wage by 15%, the third consecutive year of minimum wage hikes that far exceed inflation.

Our Operations

  • 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.
  • To access 3D Printing training, order parts and seek technical assistance, visit our online resource.

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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