COVID-19 Bulletin: January 4

January 4, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19, News

Good Afternoon,

More news relevant to the plastics industry:

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Supply

  • 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.
  • Russia believes OPEC+ can revive 500,000 bpd of idle capacity in February, while Saudi Arabia has kept its official forecasts under wrap.
  • Cambodia is set to begin crude oil production for the first time in a joint project in Gulf of Thailand oil fields.
  • Stocks of Chinese oil companies fell on Friday on concerns they could be delisted on U.S. exchanges following delisting of Chinese telecoms in the wake of growing tensions between the U.S. and China.
  • Oil companies have cut more than 100,000 jobs during the pandemic, frustrating opportunities for graduating college students who had planned a career in the industry.
  • ban on single-use plastics took effect in Mexico City with the new year.

Supply Chain

  • 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.
  • The global imbalance in shipping containers is disrupting automotive supply chains, a condition that will likely persist into the summer.
  • Shipping companies will face continuing strong demand from customer returns on purchases made online, which are three times more likely to be returned than purchases made in bricks-and-mortar stores.
  • 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

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in the US
  • Arizona reported one-day COVID-19 infections of 17,234, a record.
  • The pandemic has prompted a host of new healthcare, labor, policing and other laws in states across the country.
  • Young people are more susceptible to the highly infectious COVID-19 strain recently discovered in Britain, according to research.
  • Healthcare officials are concerned about the growing number of COVID-19 victims that suffer a prolonged loss of smell and taste, exposing them to nutritional, mental health and safety risks.
  • A National Institutes of Health study suggests that blood vessel damage in the brains of COVID-19 victims is caused by the body’s immune response rather than a direct attack from the virus.
  • Many people report fever, headache and slight pain after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, with a small number experiencing allergic reactions.
  • Congress’ recently passed pandemic relief package, coupled with low borrowing costs and a gradual return of the services sector, could drive U.S. GDP up 5.8% in 2021 after a 3.5% contraction in 2020.
  • U.S. homebuyers are facing a 12-year low in affordability, as record-low mortgage rates spur a buying frenzy that is driving up prices.
  • December was the worst month of the pandemic in the U.S. for COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities due in part to holiday travel. Nearly 1.2 million people traveled through U.S. airports on Saturday.
  • Hotels are still struggling after the industry’s worst year on record, with falling bookings reducing revenue per available hotel room by 50%.
  • Office landlords in cities around the world are being forced to lower rent prices due to high numbers of businesses subletting their leased space at a discount.
  • Remote work is becoming increasingly popular, with many employees desiring a flexible work-from-home arrangement even after they can return to offices.
  • 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.
  • The pandemic has reduced U.S. traffic congestion in the nation’s busiest areas, a result of more employees working from home.
  • Tesla delivered a record number of cars in 2020 amid rising global demand for electric vehicles.

International

  • A country’s wealth, scientific prowess and historically successful public health measures did not correspond to success in warding off COVID-19 waves in 2020, data shows.
  • COVID-19 infections are rising above 50,000 per day in the U.K. as the nation’s total fatalities topped 75,000, with emergency hospitals being readied to accommodate COVID-19 patient overflows and tougher restrictions expected to be imposed nationwide. The nation administered the world’s first dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.
  • Germany is expected to extend a national lockdown beyond Jan. 10 in the wake of more than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases per day.
  • Norway imposed new restrictions, including a nationwide ban on serving alcohol in restaurants and bars, to stem a third wave of the coronavirus.
  • ChinaSingapore, Brazil and Turkey found the first recorded patients with a highly infectious variant of COVID-19.  
  • Russia has inoculated more than 800,000 people against COVID-19, alongside issuing vaccination certificates.
  • Having vaccinated more than 10% of its population in just two weeks, Israel has rolled out the world’s most successful inoculation campaign.
The COVID-19 Vaccination Race
  • South Korea limited private gatherings nationwide amid an unexpected surge of nearly 1,000 new cases.
  • Brazil is reporting more than 50,000 COVID-19 cases and 1,000 virus fatalities per day.
  • Coronavirus cases are rising in Malaysia, and several islands in the Philippines are self-isolating after detecting a highly infectious strain of the virus.
  • Zimbabwe banned public gatherings and suspended school openings due to rising COVID-19 cases.
  • Greece is extending a national lockdown begun Nov. 7.
  • India has approved AstraZeneca/Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine, with plans to begin a mass inoculation campaign this week. The shots will be free to the public.
  • Egypt authorized a low-cost, China-developed COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinopharm.
  • Pfizer/BioNTech will supply 50 million vaccines for African healthcare workers after South African officials publicly detailed the continent’s struggles to secure vaccine doses.
  • Hong Kong will begin using vaccine records for travelers after mass vaccinations are rolled out in February.
  • Packaging containing auto parts was contaminated with the COVID-19 contagion in various locations in China, prompting an emergency response.
  • 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%.

Our Operations

  • As we enter a new year, our President and CEO shared this message and video with our Mployees and business partners.
  • 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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