Energy prices were higher in early trading today, with the WTI up 1.7% at $53.06/bbl, Brent up 1.6% at $55.93/bbl, and natural gas 11.6% higher at $2.56/MMBtu.
Global consumption of petroleum and other liquid fuels fell 9% in 2020, the largest yearly drop since 1980, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
OPEC and its member nations implemented 99% of their agreed oil-supply curbs in December, equivalent to about 7% of global supplies. An official report is expected Tuesday. Overall, the cartel’s crude production increased by about 160,000 bpd in January from December as curbs were eased.
The number of U.S. oil and gas rigs rose by 6 to 384 last week, the tenth consecutive weekly rise for a total gain of 74.
Chevron is extending a suspension on growing shale production in the U.S. Permian Basin over uncertainty about the trajectory of the pandemic. The company posted its third consecutive quarterly loss of $665 million on Friday to close its worst year since 2016, with total losses amounting to $5.5 billion for the year.
Norfolk Southern’s operations picked up pace in the last quarter of 2020, notching a record-setting quarterly operating ratio of 61.8% while net income for the year decreased 26%. Canadian Pacific also reported a record operating ratio in the fourth quarter on its way to posting higher profit on lower revenue compared to the year-ago period.
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.
Total COVID-19 infections in the U.S. topped 26 million over the weekend.
January set more daily records for the worst COVID-19 numbers of any month, while the second half of the month has seen some of the sharpest improvements in the numbers.
COVID-19 hospitalizations dipped below 100,000 for the first time in two months during the weekend, while new reported cases continued to fall.
Florida and California have both reported 92 cases of COVID-19 patients infected with the virulent virus strain discovered in the U.K. Florida’s cases encompassed nearly a third of the state’s counties. A White House health advisor is warning that the strain will likely become dominant in the U.S., potentially leading to lockdowns.
U.S. vaccine company Novavax reported its COVID-19 vaccine was nearly 90% effective in clinical trials conducted in the U.K., but only 49% effective in trials conducted in South Africa, adding concerns that virus mutations are becoming more successful in eluding shots.
The origins of long-haul COVID-19 symptoms, including a prominent “brain fog,” are still unknown, although they could be experienced in up to 76% of infected people.
Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine was 66% effective at protecting people from moderate to severe disease in a large clinical trial. The company expects to seek U.S. authorization in February, potentially bringing a third vaccine alongside Pfizer/BioNTech’s and Moderna’s.
Racial disparity in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in New York City is prominent, with Latino and Black residents accounting for significantly lower vaccination rates.
North Carolina’s home-school monitoring website crashed on the first day of enrollment after more than double the number of filings were submitted over the previous school year, indicating a larger trend of parents choosing to teach kids at home during the pandemic.
U.S. household income rose 0.6% in December, the first gain in three months, partly due to a new round of government aid efforts. Meanwhile, household spending shrank, with a 0.2% decrease from the prior month, marking the second consecutive month of declines.
Despite strong growth in the fourth quarter, U.S. GDP for 2020 ended down 3.5%, the biggest drop in nearly 75 years:
Older Americans are working longer, spurred by the elimination of commutes in the new age of remote working.
Small businesses in rural parts of the U.S. have been more successful this time around at getting federal pandemic relief from the government’s reopened Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with some states getting more than twice their share of PPP loans than before.
Contract signings for U.S. homes fell 3.6% in the Midwest in December, the fourth consecutive monthly decline, suggesting further weakness in the housing market due to rising prices.
United Airlines sent furlough notices to 14,000 employees warning of job losses when current government support ends on April 1 if more financial aid is not forthcoming from Washington.
Production of Tesla’s first electric semi heavy-duty truck has been repeatedly pushed back over supply shortages of special battery cells, with the first delivery of the vehicle now expected late this year.
Pandemic lockdowns have prompted a surge in sales of high-end liquor. Liquor giant Diageo’s net spirits sales in the U.S. grew 15% in the last six months of 2020 on an organic basis, driven by an 80% jump in tequila sales as the liquor was embraced by drinkers staying in.
Caterpillar posted a 15% decline in fourth-quarter revenue on a slowdown in construction, especially for road construction projects funded by local and state governments.
COVID-19 infections in Saudi Arabia more than tripled in January, prompting the government to extend an international travel ban for citizens until mid-May.
After nearly 10 months without community transmission of COVID-19, the Western Australia city of Perth is locked down for five days after a quarantine-hotel security guard tested positive for the virus.
Thailand is loosening restrictions across the country to allow businesses and schools to resume operations after reporting only 802 new COVID-19 cases at the end of last week.
The European Union approved AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use but cautioned that not enough data exists to determine the shot’s effectiveness in those over age 55. The company will send an additional 9 million doses to the European Union in the first quarter of 2021.
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