Oil prices rose for the past four days, boosted by a falling U.S. dollar. Prices were soft in early trading today, with the WTI down 0.6% at $48.21/bbl and Brent off 0.2% at 51.72/bbl. Natural gas was 3.1% higher at $2.62/MMBtu.
OPEC is meeting today to consider another increase in production but cautioned that oil’s recovery could be slowed by rising global COVID-19 cases and slower-than-expected vaccine rollouts.
Chinese exporters at the forefront of the nation’s economic recovery are struggling to keep up with demand in the West, a result of backlogs, delays, and double or triple prices for shipping containers.
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.
More than 21,500 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in California, a record. The state is the current U.S. hot spot of the pandemic, with strict stay-at-home orders renewed indefinitely in many regions.
The retail industry took a wild ride in 2020, with sales dropping sharply by 5.5% in April before bouncing back to finish the year 6.6% above 2019 levels. Heavy losses in apparel sales were offset by revenue gains at food-and-beverage stores. Thousands of store closures impacted some of the most recognized retail brands.
Deaths associated with large commercial airplane crashes rose in 2020 from the year before even as the number of crashes fell by more than 50%.
As we enter a new year, our President and CEO shared this message and video with our Mployees and business partners.
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We will provide further COVID-19 bulletins as circumstances dictate. For all COVID-19 updates and notices, please refer to the M. Holland website.