COVID-19 Bulletin: December 8

December 8, 2020 • Posted in News

Good Afternoon,

More news relevant to the plastics industry:

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Supply

  • Oil prices slipped late yesterday after hitting 9-month highs, finishing down for the day on concerns about soaring COVID-19 infection rates. Crude prices were flat in mid-day trading today, with the WTI at $45.64/bbl and Brent at $48.87/bbl. Natural gas was 0.2% higher at $2.41/MMBtu.
  • Oil services giant Superior Energy filed to reorganize in bankruptcy court in Texas.
  • Brazil-based Braskem is investing over $13 million to create a São Paulo recycling line that will turn 250 million pieces of plastic packaging into 14,000 tons of post-consumer resin per year. The project is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021.
  • Some oil majors, including BP and Shell, are investing in climate friendly projects to offset carbon emissions from their fossil fuel activities and with the hope of building new revenue streams as carbon credit prices rise.

Supply Chain

  • High wind warnings were issued throughout California as hurricane force gusts stoked wildfires and prompted utility Edison International to cut power to hundreds of thousands of people. Futures contracts on California water began trading on commodities markets out of concerns about scarcity, a first for the U.S.
  • French container shipping major CMA CGM is closing down bookings for freight from Asia to Europe until the end of December, citing strained capacity and an accumulated backlog.
  • Increased air cargo handling charges in Britain are causing a stir among airfreight forwarders, with rates going up significantly on COVID-19 surcharges as the country nears an official economic break with the European Union.
  • Sustainability trends in the warehouse and logistics industry have been ramped up by pandemic-induced pressure, including increased automation and building efficiency, new retail distribution spaces in former traditional shops, increased use of recycled packaging and containers, and greater utilization of cost-saving renewable energy.
  • We are seeing congested trucking and shipping conditions, backlogs at warehousing and packaging facilities, and tight packaging supplies. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates. 

Markets

  • In the U.S. yesterday, there were 192,416 new COVID-19 infections and 1,404 deaths.
  • The U.S. set a new weekly record of 15,000 COVID-19 fatalities last week, surpassing heart disease as the leading cause of death in the country while hospitalizations rose to a new high on Monday of 101,487.
  • Public health officials are warning that the risk of a surge in new COVID-19 cases over the Christmas holidays could be even greater than during Thanksgiving. A University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projects that the U.S. could experience over 1 million new infections a day by mid-January. 
  • The IHME’s latest report indicates COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. could double to more than 539,000 by April.
  • As the U.S. lowers its projections of vaccines available by the end of the year, state vaccination plans are at risk of being derailed after relying on outmoded federal data.
  • New York followed California’s lead in adopting new metrics that will impose regional shutdowns when hospital bed limits reach a certain threshold.
  • Michigan is extending by 12 days its coronavirus restrictions, including a ban on indoor dining and closed in-person high school classes, as cases continue to rise in the state.
  • Wyoming has issued its first statewide mask mandate during the pandemic.
  • In a further sign of the unprecedented nature of the pandemic crisis, the nation’s trade deficit has increased rather than decreased during the recession:
In Unusual Trend, US Trade Deficit Widens in 2020 Recession
  • Negotiations on a new stimulus package have slowed, prompting lawmakers to postpone their Friday deadline for a deal.
  • U.S. jobs growth has flattened with rising COVID-19 infection rates …
Job Gains Slow to a Trickle in Long Climb Back
  • …while long-term unemployment has soared:
Long-term Unemployment Rises as Crisis Drags on
  • New virus contract-tracing apps from Apple and Google have debuted in California, with users able to activate “exposure notification” tools from their smartphone settings. 
  • Public anxiety over the safety of potential COVID-19 vaccines is undermining confidence in their widespread use when they become available.
  • While many colleges have experienced a drop in enrollment during the pandemic, applications to medical schools are up 18% in a phenomenon called “the Fauci Effect.” 
  • The FCC is apportioning $9.2 billion to build rural broadband networks over the next decade, the government’s largest step ever to extend high-speed internet service.
  • More than 110,000 restaurants have been permanently shuttered during the pandemic.
  • Tomorrow, American Airlines will begin offering $129 home COVID-19 testing kits for passengers planning to travel to cities with restrictions.
  • Ford has delayed the launch of its new Bronco model from spring to summer due to pandemic-related supply disruptions.
  • Uber, its ride-hailing business flattened by the pandemic, sold its autonomous vehicle unit as it pares back its business portfolio in a bid to deliver long-awaited profitability to shareholders.
  • Even after a global shift in focus to the development of fully electric vehicles, hybrid vehicle sales are increasing in a large share of the market.
  • Christmas tree sales are up as much as 50% this year, with a bias favoring natural trees, as consumers seek traditional solace during the pandemic.
  • Companies are revamping year-end performance review systems in favor of a gentler approach, as remote work, an increase in home responsibilities and health concerns take a toll on employee mental and physical health.
  • BASF has launched a stainless steel filament for Fused Filament Fabrication 3D printing. M. Holland is an authorized distributor for BASF 3D printing products.

International

  • Today, the U.K. became the first Western nation to start vaccinating the public, with 800,000 doses expected to be available within the first week.
  • Pfizer and AstraZeneca have applied for emergency use authorization for vaccines in India.
  • British retail sales slowed in November during a four-week lockdown, while online orders in the country picked up the slack on their biggest gain since June.
  • On Monday, Japan announced a new stimulus package of $708 billion, even as the country reported a 22.9% year-over-year GDP expansion from July to September. Meanwhile, Japanese household spending rose in October for the first time in a year.
  • A Brazilian airline has become the world’s second carrier to return to flying Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX jets, which recently emerged from months-long ban after several crash incidents.
  • Car sales in China rose 7.8% in November, the fifth consecutive monthly gain, with sales of electric vehicles more than doubling. A global shortage of computer chips for automotive applications could hamper production in China in the first quarter.
  • Business sentiment in Australia rose after the country emerged from the world’s longest lockdowns in November, with National Australia Bank’s index of conditions jumping to +9 after hitting a low of -34 in April.
  • The United Nations warned that 2021 is shaping up to be the worst humanitarian crisis in its 75-year history as demand for humanitarian aid is up 40% during the pandemic and some regions of the world are facing the risk of famine.

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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