COVID-19 Bulletin: January 22

January 22, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19, News

Good Afternoon,

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Supply

  • Energy prices were under pressure in early trading today due to pandemic lockdown concerns and a rising U.S. dollar. The WTI was down 2.9% at $51.61/bbl, and Brent was down 2.5% at $54.68/bbl. Natural gas was down 1.8% at $2.45/MMBtu.
  • Oilfield services provider Baker Hughes posted its first quarterly net profit since March, with a net income of $653 million in Q4 compared to a loss of $170 million in Q3.
  • U.S. crude inventories increased by 2.5 million barrels last week, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Analysts were expecting an inventory draw.
  • Saudi Arabia remained the single largest oil supplier to the world’s largest importer, China, in 2020, narrowly beating out Russia, which saw larger growth than Saudi Arabia.
  • Millions of barrels of Venezuelan heavy crude, embargoed by the U.S. but reformulated with chemical additives to escape regulatory notice, is making its way to Chinese refineries in defiance of U.S. sanctions.
  • The White House issued a 60-day ban on new drilling and leasing permits on federal lands. A permanent drilling ban will have a muted effect on big oil companies, who have stockpiles of permits, but could pose an existential threat to some smaller drillers.

Supply Chain

  • Almost 700 dockworkers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have contracted COVID-19, with hundreds more taking virus-related leaves. 
  • The American Trucking Associations’ for-hire truck tonnage index ended 2020 on a high note, increasing 7.4% in December after rising 3.2% the previous month.
  • Long inspection delays have prompted DHL Express to suspend U.K.-EU business-to-consumer shipments requiring special border control scrutiny, such as animal- and plant-based product, cosmetics and perfumes.
  • Korean (43%) and Chinese (41%) shipbuilders won most new orders for vessels in 2020
  • California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District is proposing rules that would make large warehouses responsible for meeting emission standards of trucks servicing the facilities, even if they own no trucks.
  • California ranks highest among states in risks for trucking fleets according to an examination of more than 10 million risky driving incidents last year.
  • 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 188,952 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 3,955 fatalities.
  • The number of U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations has declined for 10 days since peaking at 131,326. New COVID-19 cases are declining in 46 states.
  • GeorgiaKentuckyOklahomaSouth Carolina and Texas set records this week for seven-day COVID-19 deaths.
  • Virginia has suffered 41,765 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, a seven-day record.
  • Ohio is extending a 10:00 p.m.–5:00 a.m. curfew out of concerns about the risk of virulent new variants of COVID-19 spreading in the nation. The state attorney general is investigating whether up to half of the 1.4 million unemployment claims in the state under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program may have been fraudulent.
  • COVID-19 cases have reached every county in the U.S., including the latest and last, a Hawaiian island enclave built for Hansen’s disease patients. Yet nearly 20% of counties lack a single COVID-19 testing site.
  • New York public school leaders are considering extending remote learning into the fall due to a shortage of vaccines that is preventing teachers from getting inoculated.
  • Florida will now require those seeking COVID-19 vaccines to be permanent or seasonal residents of the state, a measure to protect tight vaccine supplies from foreign visitors coming to the state to secure shots.
  • Eli Lilly’s antibody-based drug prevented COVID-19 in 57% of nursing home staff and residents, making the therapeutic a potential complement to vaccines while inoculations increase.
  • COVID-19 restrictions and habits have nearly wiped out seasonal influenza in the Northern Hemisphere this year. Sales of over-the-counter cold, flu and cough medicines declined 46% in the five weeks ended Dec. 26 from the same period a year prior.
  • The White House issued new directives requiring that masks be worn in airports, planes, intercity buses and other forms of transportation, and requires new arrivals in the country to self-quarantine, which had previously been unenforced guidance.
  • Over 75% of Americans report wearing masks in public:
Majority of Americans Wear A Mask in Public
  • The White House issued an order directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue COVID-19 guidelines for employers.
  • The U.S., on track to formally withdraw from the World Health Organization this July, is reversing course and restoring ties with the UN-backed public health agency, paying hundreds of millions in owed dues and beginning collaboration on COVID-19 efforts.
  • The average length of time U.S. homeowners stay in one home increased slightly from 2019 to 2020, contributing to record low inventories of homes that have pushed up prices.
  • Single-family home sales in Palm Beach, Florida, more than quadrupled in Q4 from the year-ago period, lifting the median sale price by 29%.
  • McKinsey reports that 40% of consumers plan to cut discretionary spending in coming months, with many cutting up their credit cards, after a pandemic buying binge during 2020.
  • Insurance supplier Travelers saw net income surge 50% in Q4, likely a result of fewer accidents as drivers stay off the roads.
  • Nearly 60,000 small businesses were approved for more than $5 billion in forgivable loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program, which reopened last week.
  • M&A deals in the global packaging industry in Q4 were down 23% from the prior-year period and 56% from the prior quarter.
  • Heinz is replacing plastic with paperboard on multi-pack packaging for canned products.
  • Instacart, the gig-worker grocery fulfillment service, is cutting 1,900 in-store shopping jobs as supermarkets turn to in-house delivery services to avoid Instacart’s 10% commission fees.

International

  • Chinese authorities reported 126 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections.
  • Portugal recorded 221 COVID-19 fatalities Thursday, the fourth straight day of record deaths.
  • Indonesia recorded 346 COVID-19 fatalities Thursday, a record.
  • Africa’s coronavirus fatality rate increased to above the global average, a worrying trend for the region that formerly was below the average.
  • Northern Ireland extended its coronavirus lockdown to March 5. 
  • U.K. officials signaled that current COVID-19 lockdown restrictions could extend into summer. The government is considering paying people to comply with quarantine mandates as many of those exposed to COVID-19 flout the rules.
  • Lebanon is extending a national lockdown imposed earlier this month by two weeks.
  • Israel and the U.K. are recommending COVID-19 inoculations of pregnant women, a shift in guidance based on the higher risks infected pregnant women face and fears about new, more virulent strains of the virus.
  • Pfizer’s retooling of a Belgian manufacturing facility led to short deliveries in Italy and Germany, with 29% fewer vaccine doses than expected, while Canada is set to receive no vaccine doses next week.
  • Hungary became the first European country to approve Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, which also gained approval from the United Arab Emirates.
  • India, a major COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing hub, is donating several million vials to neighboring countries, including Nepal, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Bhutan.
  • Sri Lanka opened its doors to tourists again after 10 months of strict travel restrictions.
  • Israel’s COVID-19 reproduction rate, i.e., the number of people an infected person goes on to infect, dipped below 1 for the first time in the pandemic, partly due to the country’s world-leading vaccination campaign.
  • Thailand granted emergency use authorization to AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine amid a second wave of infections.
  • COVAX, a global consortium promoting equitable distribution of vaccines, will deliver 100,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s shot to Nigeria in February, the nation’s first shipment of vaccines.
  • South African governmental officials are under fire for the nation’s slow vaccine launch; the country won’t receive its first batch of vaccines from COVAX until next month.
  • The U.K., a nation of about 66 million people, has now vaccinated 7.6% of its population, on track for 15 million inoculations by mid-February.
  • Germany’s chancellor is promising availability of COVID-19 vaccines to the broader public by late September.
  • The IHS Markit Purchasing Manager’s index for the Eurozone fell to 47.5 in January, signaling the region may be entering a double-dip recession under the strain of renewed COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
  • Germany cut its growth forecast for the current year from 4.4% to 3.0% due to continuing pandemic lockdown restrictions.

Our Operations

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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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