COVID-19 Bulletin: February 3

February 3, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19, News

Good Afternoon,

More news relevant to the plastics industry:

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Supply

  • Oil prices moved higher yesterday on an unexpectedly large 4.3 million barrel draw in crude oil inventories last week, with WTI breaking $55 per barrel intraday for the first time since January 2020.
  • Oil prices were higher in early trading today, with the WTI up 2.7% at $56.21/bbl and Brent up 2.4% at $58.83/bbl. Natural gas was down 0.2% at $2.84/MMBtu.
  • The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the only U.S. port capable of loading supertankers, saw record export volume in January as Asia stocks up on oil for an expected acceleration in economic activity.
  • Crude stockpiles in China have fallen to their lowest level since last February. 
  • The pandemic sapped oil demand and profits for oil majors last year, with multibillion-dollar net losses reported by Exxon Mobil ($22 billion), BP ($18.1 billion) and Chevron ($5.5 billion) in one of the industry’s worst-performing years.
  • BP’s 20% stake in Russia’s top oil producer stands as an obstacle to attracting green investors as the company shifts from fossil fuels to clean energy and convenience retailing.
  • China is expected to add 140 gigawatts of renewable power generation this year to help accommodate a 6% to 7% projected rise in electricity use, according to the China Electricity Council.

Supply Chain

  • shortage of cardboard caused by a surge in online shipments and economic recovery is disrupting supply chains and forcing some retailers to shift from cardboard to plastic packaging. Wood pulp prices are soaring due to increased demand and speculation in China.
  • The U.S. Postal Service is considering raising postage prices by 5.5% to 9% this year for letters, magazines, catalogs and other items, leading a group of commercial mailers and printers to seek federal injunctions on the service’s pricing powers.
  • Nissan suspended some truck production in Mississippi due to a global semiconductor chip shortage, the latest in a series of such production disruptions.
  • The White House ordered a government-wide review of critical U.S. supply chains, part of an effort to reduce reliance on countries such as China for essential medical supplies and minerals.
  • China bought almost $32 billion of computer chip making equipment from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan last year, a 20% increase from 2019 as the nation seeks to protect itself from widening U.S. technology bans.
  • Contract rates for transpacific shipping are 15% above prior levels for the same period, a sign that rates could remain high for the foreseeable future.
  • California is calling on the Federal Maritime Commission to take immediate steps to review carrier export policies after shipments of U.S. agricultural exports were shunned in favor of sending empty containers back to Asia, where outgoing rates are higher.
  • Swedish truck maker AB Volvo reported better-than-expected fourth quarter results but warned supply chain challenges could impact results in the current quarter.
  • 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. 

Markets

  • There were 114,437 new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. yesterday and 3,530 fatalities.
  • Illinois’ COVID-19 case count fell to 2,304 on Tuesday, the lowest daily figure since Oct. 6 for one of the nation’s most improved states for pandemic figures.
  • Four hundred National Guard troops deployed to Washington to secure the presidential inauguration have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • There is a growing list of vaccines approved or in late-stage trials:
How Effective Are The Covid-19 Vaccines

International

  • Czechia became the 20th nation to tally over 1 million COVID-19 infections.
  • The United Kingdom is investigating a mutation in its highly infectious COVID-19 strain that could reduce vaccine efficacy, with 11 cases reported in Bristol and 32 in Liverpool.
  • Global vaccine rollouts are expected to take until 2023:
Global Vaccine Timeline Stretches to 2023
  • Encouraging results from Israel’s world-leading vaccination effort indicate vaccinations are effective in stopping COVID-19 infections:
Israeli Vaccination Data Cause For Optimism
  • Russia’s two-shot Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine was 91.6% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and offered complete protection against severe cases, according to a peer-reviewed study.
  • Canada struck a deal with Novavax Inc. to manufacture the company’s COVID-19 vaccine in-country.
  • France is limiting the use of AstraZeneca/Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine to those under age 64, the latest nation to limit the shots’ use over a lack of efficacy and safety data for older populations.
  • New Zealand approved Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, the first shot given authorization in the country. Recent data showed an unexpected drop in the nation’s jobless rate in the fourth quarter.
  • The eurozone’s economy is faltering under the weight of persistently high COVID-19 infections, lockdowns and slow vaccine rollouts, causing the bloc’s GDP to contract 0.7% in the three months through December when other economies were rebounding.
  • The European Union Central Bank welcomed a 0.9% rise in inflation in January, the first increase in six months.
  • A Purchasing Managers Index in Japan shrank from 47.7 in December to 46.1 in January, the lowest reading since August, indicating sector contraction.
  • South Korea was ranked the world’s top innovator for the seventh of the last nine years, according to the latest Bloomberg Innovation Index, while the U.S. dropped out of the top 10.
  • Chinese seat capacity on domestic and international flights fell more than 20% from the end of September, as COVID-19 waves dent Asia’s aviation recovery.

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.  

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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