COVID-19 Bulletin: July 23

July 23, 2020 • Posted in News

Good Afternoon,

More COVID-19 news relevant to the plastics industry:

Supply

  • Oil prices are facing the counter-forces of upward pressure from a weakening U.S. dollar and downward pressure due to rising inventories and economic uncertainty.
  • Crude prices were lower in early trading with the WTI price at $41.55/bbl and Brent at $43.91/bbl.
  • Alternative energy has captured record share of global electricity markets during the pandemic as its essentially free variable cost creates a preference over fossil fuel sources.
  • Chevron is using solar power at an oil field in California, reducing production costs while generating low-carbon fuel standard credits worth $4 million annually.

Supply Chain

  • Whirlpool, which reported better-than-expected second-quarter results on strong appliance sales from stay-at-home consumers, said supply chain constraints have stretched backlogs from weeks to as much as two quarters. Among the challenges is lower factory productivity due to social distancing requirements.
  • We continue to experience challenges with truck deliveries, particularly LTL shipments, due to labor shortages and operational delays caused by COVID-19 protocols. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help assure delivery dates will be met.
  • Beyond the transportation challenges, our Gold Standard logistics partners and U.S. ports continue to operate without interruption.

Markets

  • In a setback for the economy, new jobless claims rose more than expected to 1.4 million, the first increase since filings peaked in March.
  • U.S. COVID-19 cases are on track to surpass 4 million today, and deaths exceeded 1,000 again yesterday, the second highest daily total. 
  • With the $600 unemployment supplement and restrictions on home evictions expiring tomorrow, the Senate and White House compromised on significant differences and agreed on a $1 trillion rescue package. Negotiations with the House of Representatives have yet to begin.
  • Now that Paycheck Protection Program loans are spent, many small businesses are at a breaking point, with one-third lacking enough cash reserves to last more than a month.
  • The federal government entered a $2 billion contract to produce 600 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine under development with Pfizer and BioNTech, who are partnering in the vaccine project.
  • There is growing anecdotal evidence but no scientific verification that it may be possible to catch COVID-19 more than once.
  • The housing market, fueled by historic low interest rates, continued its rebound in June, as sales of existing homes jumped 20% month-over-month. With 47% of those sales in the southern U.S., the rebound could face an obstacle with rising COVID-19 infections in many Sunbelt states.
  • Southwest Airlines and American Airlines joined other major carriers in scaling back flights as rising COVID-19 infection rates curtail summer travel.
  • Amazon announced that it will delay its Prime Day, which normally takes place in July, without specifying a new date.
  • The pandemic has disrupted the back-to-school shopping season, leaving parents uncertain about whether physical schools will reopen, or classes will be held online. Sales are expected to reach a record $102 billion with laptop sales expected to be a hot product.
  • A Materials Recovery for the Future project to test new separation methods for flexible plastic packaging (FPP) from the waste stream was a success. FPP, a 12-billion-pound market in the U.S., is the fastest growing plastic packaging globally.

International

  • The U.S. dollar is down 8% from this year’s highs relative to a basket of other currencies and at its weakest point since 2018 as the expanding pandemic and escalating trade tensions weigh on the currency.
  • The euro has rallied 3% versus the dollar this month, fueled by optimism about this week’s bailout package and the dollar’s relative weakness.
  • Global tourism is suffering a devastating fall this year:
  • A COVID-19 silver lining: prevention measures have resulted in a steep drop in cases of the flu and other seasonal viruses in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Brexit talks stalled between the European Union and the U.K. with a year-end deadline for the U.K.’s departure from the Union looming.
  • U.K. manufacturing sentiment and industrial activity recovered more than expected in the second quarter.
  • Sweden has paid a steep price for its “herd immunity” strategy to COVID-19, with a death count 4 ½ times higher than combined death toll of the other four Nordic countries.

Our Operations

  • To access 3D Printing training, order parts and seek technical assistance, visit our new online resource.
  • 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.
  • M. Holland’s official status statement is available here.

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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