COVID-19 Bulletin: December 15

December 15, 2020 • Posted in COVID-19, News

Good Afternoon,

More news relevant to the plastics industry:

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Supply

  • Crude prices were modestly higher in mid-day trading today, with the WTI at $47.48/bbl and Brent at $50.68/bbl, while natural gas was lower at $2.67/MMBtu.
  • OPEC has reduced projections for global fuel consumption in the first quarter of 2021 by 1 million bpd.
  • Texas oil major Exxon Mobil announced new plans to decrease emissions over the next five years while ending the practice of flaring methane.
  • Italian energy company Enel is building four new wind farms and one solar plant in Brazil, capable of providing 1.3 gigawatts of electricity.
  • An explosives-laden boat struck an oil tanker docked in the Saudi city of Jeddah, causing a blast, fire and oil leakage but no injuries.

Supply Chain

  • The U.S. Postal Service warned that a potentially severe winter storm expected to hit the U.S. Northeast tomorrow could further extend shipping delays in the region.
  • Shipping freight rates from China have surged by more than 300% since March due to a shortage of containers: 
Container Freight From Asia Surges
  • India’s containerized trade contracted by about 8% in the third quarter, with strongly recovering exports not enough to make up for weak imports, according to Maersk.
  • While a resurgence of trade at some of the country’s largest container ports buoy trade activity, other U.S. ports handling non-containerized goods are seeking $3.5 billion in federal aid to make up for a 6.3% decrease in trade volume compared to last year.
  • CMA CGM is dialing up capacity on the Asia-Europe trade lane as unprecedented demand forced the company to shut down bookings from Asia to Europe for the remainder of December. Other major shippers, including world leader Maersk, also have been turning down bookings from Asia.
  • Costco is reporting two- to four-day delays in inventory replenishment due to container shortages, which company leadership expects to last until March.
  • IKEA has apologized to customers after weeks-long delayed deliveries due to congestion at U.K. ports.
  • The recent Russian hack against network manager SolarWinds and some government agencies underscores the cybersecurity risks facing supply chains.
  • 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 193,454 new COVID-19 infections and 1,311 deaths in the U.S. yesterday.
  • The U.S. has passed 300,000 fatalities attributed to COVID-19, the highest of any single nation. 
US Hits Grim Milestone 9 Months Into Pandemic
  • The latest COVID-19 wave has moved to America’s West, where California is suffering more new cases than any state, and Nevada has the highest rate of hospitalizations per capita.
  • New York added 1,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past week, leading the state’s governor to warn of a second full shutdown that would include closures of non-essential businesses.
  • The first U.S. vaccinations occurred yesterday, with 55 sites nationwide beginning to inoculate high-risk healthcare workers in potentially the largest mass immunization campaign in the country’s history. Vaccines will be delivered to more than 1,000 locations by Wednesday.
  • Some state leaders are warning that they lack the funds necessary for distribution consistent with the federal government’s rollout.
  • COVID-19 vaccinations could soon be available at Walmart’s more than 5,000 pharmacy locations.
  • The proposed $908 billion coronavirus-aid bill includes $300 billion in a targeted program to help the nation’s smallest businesses that experienced at least a 30% revenue loss in any quarter of 2020. Negotiations on the bill came up short Monday, indicating lawmakers may need to narrow the bill’s focus to win passage by year’s end.
  • U.S. households expect their spending to rise 3.7% in 2021 after savings were boosted by federal pandemic aid earlier this year.
  • The proportion of mortgage borrowers seeking forbearance relief rose to its highest level since August, as more U.S. homeowners seek to delay making payments. 
  • Small U.S. lenders are doing better than expected thanks to federal stimulus dollars that passed through banks on their way to households and businesses.
  • Google is considering a “flexible workweek” when employees return to offices next September, with three days of in-office work per week coupled with remote work the other days.
  • The promise of cheaper living and business costs alongside more space are drawing people from dense population centers in California and New York toward places like Texas and Florida.
  • Boeing is expanding inspections of new 787 Dreamliner jets after a manufacturing defect was found by regulators, the reason why none of the jets were delivered in November.
  • Amazon’s Zoox autonomous vehicle business unveiled an electric car that has no steering wheel, seats four and can go 16 hours on a charge for use in an eventual ride-sharing service. 
  • GM is opening a new Additive Industrialization Center at its Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, to expand its use of 3D printing for production parts and product development. 
  • Steel demand for cars, appliances and machinery has rebounded since steelmakers idled about one-third of domestic production capacity in the spring.
  • Consumer goods giant Unilever is one of the first major companies to give shareholders a vote on its efforts to reduce carbon emissions, seeking approval from investors every three years on climate mitigation plans.

International

  • Health officials are aware of a new COVID-19 variant found in close to 1,000 people in England, but there is no evidence the strain behaves differently than existing types of the virus.
  • European nations are increasing curbs on people and businesses as COVID-19 infections tick up in several regions.
    • A rapid rise in cases has prompted British lawmakers to impose the nation’s toughest restrictions on Londoners.
    • The Netherlands is closing schools and shops for at least five weeks and limiting in-person gatherings to two people, with a three-person exception for Christmas. The country of 17 million people is seeing COVID-19 cases increasing by nearly 10,000 per day.
    • Next Wednesday, Germany will enter a national lockdown extending to January 10 as new COVID-19 infections approach 20,000 per day.
  • South Africa is curbing alcohol sales and closing beaches at the height of the nation’s summer holiday season due to rising COVID-19 cases.
  • Japan is halting a nationwide travel campaign as daily COVID-19 cases reach several thousand.
  • Singapore has approved Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, with plans to receive initial shipments by the end of the month. The city-state aims to inoculate all of its 5.7 million residents who want the vaccine by the end of 2021.
  • Singapore is creating a “bubble” for business travelers that will allow people to come to the city-state without quarantine for short-term stays near the airport.
  • Canada has started inoculating its population, with an initial rollout focused on staff and residents at nursing homes. The country has also approved a plan to send nearly half a billion dollars to support COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.
  • U.K.’s rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is taking longer than expected as increased measures are taken at vaccination sites to monitor patients for allergic reactions, health officials say.
  • China’s economic recovery gained steam in November, with industrial output rising 7% from the year-ago period and retail sales up 5% as strong demand from home and abroad boosted consumer spending and exports.
  • More than a dozen Google services, including Gmail and YouTube, were down across the globe Monday morning, with the company citing an internal storage issue that prevented users from logging in.
  • Walmart announced plans to triple its exports of India-made goods to $10 billion per year by 2027, supporting the nation’s plans to rise as a global manufacturing hub.
  • Startup battery manufacturer Britishvolt is planning a Gigafactory to be completed by 2027 that will produce 300,000 lithium-ion battery packs a year, used to supply the U.K. automotive industry.
  • The U.K. is starting its own carbon market at the beginning of 2021 after finalizing its separation from the European Union.

Our Operations

  • M. Holland will be closed on Thursday and Friday, December 24 and 25, for the Christmas holiday.
  • 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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