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- A larger-than-expected inventory draw last week coupled with passage of an economic relief package buoyed oil prices yesterday. Prices were higher in early trading today, with the WTI at $48.33/bbl and Brent at $51.43/bbl. Natural gas was lower at $2.43/MMBtu.
- Brazil’s oil industry is booming, fueled in part by new maritime regulations lowering the Sulphur cap for maritime fuels that favor the country’s light sweet crude.
- With the European Union moving to tax polluting ships that serve the continent’s ports, several trading partners, including Japan, South Korea, Russia and Brazil, are pushing back over what they consider new tariffs.
- The Federal Aviation Administration set new regulations for drones this week, potentially clearing the way for companies to begin package deliveries.
- Logistics conditions remain strained, with trucking demand exceeding availability, continuing 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.
- The U.S. suffered record COVID-19 deaths yesterday – 3,725. There were 201,555 new infections.
- The CDC predicts COVID-19 fatalities will reach 400,000 by January 20, a 100,000 jump in just one month.
- The U.S. South and West account for a large majority of Americans currently hospitalized for COVID-19, indicating the surge that began in the fall has not ended yet.
- Texas recorded 26,990 new COVID-19 cases in one day, a 41% increase over the state’s previous record from December 23.
- A young Colorado man with no history of travel has tested positive for a highly infectious COVID-19 strain recently discovered in England, the U.S.’s first recorded case of the mutated version of the virus.
- California extended stay-at-home orders for much of the southern part of the state due to a shortage of ICU beds in the region’s hospitals. Many hospitals in the state are experiencing shortages of oxygen to treat rising COVID-19 hospitalizations.
- Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, 41, died from COVID-19 yesterday, just 12 days after announcing he contracted the virus, the first Congressperson or Congressperson-elect to die from the disease.
- At 200,000 per day, U.S. vaccination rates for COVID-19 are lagging expected year-end figures, with the nation unlikely to meet its initial goal of providing 20 million doses by year’s end. Some states, facing a backlog in administering the vaccines, are enlisting the help of medical and nursing students, even firefighters, to help give the shots to free up healthcare workers for hospital services.
- The Senate blocked immediate consideration of a measure to increase direct relief payments to Americans from $600 to $2,000.
- With a surge in last-minute applications, the Federal Reserve is extending by eight days the end date for its Main Street Lending Program, which provides small businesses with credit to weather the pandemic-induced recession.
- With more than 12 million of 22 million people who lost jobs in 2020 returning to the workforce, U.S. employment is changing shape, with declines at retail stores, restaurants and bars and increases at warehouse and transportation businesses.
- Home-price growth accelerated in October, with strong demand pushing sales to a 14-year high.
- Small businesses are winning about a quarter of cases against insurers for refusals to pay for business interruptions caused by the pandemic.
- Some tech firms are adopting a new strategy of setting pay rates without regard for location, a move that challenges a long-held notion that where people live should determine what they make.
- Southwest Airlines will be able to avoid what would have been the first layoffs in the company’s history with the $15 billion in airline aid included in Congress’ recently passed relief package.
- American Airlines is restarting commercial flights in the U.S. on Boeing’s 737 MAX after the plane was grounded two years ago following two deadly crashes.
- The U.K. reported a one-day surge of more than 41,000 new COVID-19 cases despite tightened restrictions in the nation’s most infectious areas. A leading U.K. health official warned that the nation needs to mount tighter coronavirus lockdown measures to avert a fresh wave of COVID-19 fatalities from the new strain of the virus.
- Pakistan, India and Chile announced the first confirmed cases of a highly infectious COVID-19 strain recently discovered in Britain and a growing number of other countries.
- COVID-19 cases in the Netherlands are down 12%, though hospitalizations remain high.
- COVID-19 fatalities in Germany surpassed 30,000 yesterday.
- Total fatalities in Moscow for the month of November were 50% higher than the same time last year, a measure that may reflect unreported deaths associated with widespread COVID-19 infections.
- Officials in Thailand are tightening restrictions after a small outbreak of COVID-19 at a seafood vendor spread to 60% of the nation’s 77 provinces.
- Sydney, Australia faces tougher New Year’s restrictions after a second cluster of 18 coronavirus infections were discovered yesterday.
- Singapore has become one of the first Asian nations to begin rolling out Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to prioritized groups including healthcare workers.
- Iran has begun human testing for a homegrown experimental COVID-19 vaccine, with three phases expected to take place within 60 days.
- COVID-19 cases in Wuhan, China, could have been nearly 10 times higher than the official recorded tally, new data show.
- Surpassing 500,000 distributed COVID-19 shots, Israel has inoculated nearly 1 in 20 members of the population, more than any other country.
- The AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine received approval for use in the U.K. but is not likely to receive speedy approval from the European Union, with little information being provided so far and no application yet filed.
- China’s central bank has pledged to avoid sudden shifts in monetary policy, with plans to continue stimulus aid as business activity returns to normal.
- The pandemic has decimated Indonesia’s gig economy, with more than 40% of motorcycle taxi drivers leaving the industry without aid from the government.
- M. Holland will be closed on Friday, January 1, for New Year’s Day. To mark the holiday, our President and CEO shared this message and video with our Mployees and business partners.
- 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.
We will provide further COVID-19 bulletins as circumstances dictate. For all COVID-19 updates and notices, please refer to the M. Holland website.