COVID-19 Bulletin: November 25

November 30, 2020 • Posted in COVID-19, News

Good Afternoon,

More news relevant to the plastics industry:

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Supply

  • Oil prices rose yesterday for the 6th day in the past 7 to their highest levels since March. Crude prices were higher in mid-day trading today, with the WTI up 1.5% at $45.57/bbl and Brent up 1.1% at $48.38/bbl. Natural gas was 1.9% lower at $2.72/MMBtu.
  • The prospect of a warm winter threatens natural gas prices, with early indications of market sentiment reflected in declining futures prices.
  • The American Petroleum Institute yesterday reported a larger-than-expected build in crude inventories last week. 
  • Saudi Aramco-owned Sabic is in preliminary talks to go public with its specialty chemicals unit, a move that could deepen Saudi Arabia’s stock market while attracting more foreign investment to the country.
  • Saudi Arabia’s exports fell by nearly a third in September year over year, driven by a 38.7% drop in oil shipments. 
  • Exxon has dramatically reduced its projections for oil prices for the next decade, according to internal financial planning documents revealed by the Wall Street Journal. 
  • In a switch of strategy, General Motors is backing California’s authority to set its own fuel-efficiency regulations, a move that could synchronize the state’s low-emissions goals with GM’s increasing investment in the green car sector.
  • The risks associated with warming temperatures may discourage oil companies and banks from funding projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, even as the federal government clears regulatory hurdles for drilling.

Supply Chain

  • Rolled cargo levels at transshipment ports are approaching 30% as congestion increases and carriers are reportedly adjusting services to more lucrative routes, such as imports from Asia.
  • Container line operating profits in 2020 are projected to more than double from their 2019 level of $5.9 billion.
  • Spurred by increasing U.S. energy exports over long distances, 2020 is on pace to be the unusual year where global seaborne tonnage falls while the distance transported per tonne increases.
  • Soaring parcel delivery demand has caused a shortage of vans, with both FedEx and UPS scrambling to buy and rent more delivery vehicles. 
  • UPS is providing portable, super-cold freezers along with dry ice that will assist in the distribution of some COVID-19 vaccines nearing final regulatory approval.
  • Peloton is encountering frustrated customers and cancelled orders over months-long delivery delays the company blames on supply chain congestion. 
  • Autonomous vehicle startup Gatik has raised $25 million in its most recent round of funding on prospects of a vehicle line for B2B short-haul logistics.
  • Diageo is the latest beverage maker to come out with updated sustainability goals, pledging net-zero emissions in its owned operations and a 50% emissions reduction in its supply chain by 2030.
  • With tight freight capacity nationwide and supply constraints with many plastic resins, clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates.

Markets

  • U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations topped 88,000 yesterday, the 15th consecutive day of record hospitalizations. The nation recorded 172,935 new COVID-19 cases and 2,146 fatalities and has added 2 million new COVID-19 cases in the past 2 weeks. 
  • Rural America has seen COVID-19 infections at a rate of up to 60% higher than urban areas in recent weeks.
  • Texas reported a single-day record for new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday with 13,998. The state’s seven-day average is also at an all-time high of 10,606 cases per day.
  • California counties are facing tighter restrictions after the state shattered its one-day record of new COVID-19 infections on Monday, reporting 20,513.
  • Federal health officials are considering shortening the recommended 14-day quarantine period for those who test negative for the virus during confinement, although official guidance from the CDC has not yet been released.
  • AstraZeneca’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine showed the strongest results for those under the age of 55, data from the company’s late-stage trials show.
  • The federal government is gearing up to send 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to states within 24 hours of the drug’s regulatory approval, which could come as early as mid-December.
  • New research is pointing to an early mutation in COVID-19 that may have made it easier for the virus to spread. First spotted in eastern China in January, the mutation has displaced variants of the disease elsewhere, taking strong hold in Europe and New York City.
  • U.S. lawmakers have reached a tentative agreement for spending that will keep the government open after current funding runs out on Dec. 11.
  • A private research group’s index of consumer confidence fell below analysts’ expectations in November, signaling Americans’ dimming view of the economy alongside rising COVID-19 cases.
  • Walmart is the latest in a string of large retailers – including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Williams Sonoma – to hang customers’ Christmas lights or deliver live trees to their doorsteps.
  • As holiday travel picks up, health experts are calling out airlines for using misleading claims that may imply the risk of exposure to COVID-19 while flying is lower than most people think.
  • General Electric is extending cuts in its aviation division, citing the pandemic’s continued effects on commercial air travel. The company already slashed 25% of the division’s 52,000 employees earlier this year.
  • Deere & Co. reported better-than-expected quarterly results and forecast an improving outlook for the agricultural and construction sectors after earlier turmoil in the pandemic. 
  • Booming laptop sales partially offset a drop in office equipment revenue for both HP and Dell in the most recent quarter.
  • COVID-19 and work-from-home protocols have crushed the dry-cleaning industry, with 1 in 6 permanently closed during the pandemic and more casualties expected. 
  • University of Wisconsin researchers are testing new technology that allows multilayer plastic film to be recycled through a series of solvent baths that reclaim one layer at a time.
  • The centuries-long story of glass food preservation shows that mason jars may be one of the most accurate barometers of the state of the economy, with sales taking off during times of economic insecurity, including the pandemic.

International

  • Lockdowns and restrictions in Europe appear to be working to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Europe:
Has Europe Broken the Second Wave
  • French officials will begin easing the country’s second national lockdown this weekend after a dip in case numbers from the previous month’s highs.
  • COVID-19 fatalities in Italy hit 853 on Tuesday, the highest level since late March. Deaths in Russia topped 500 yesterday, a record, while hospitals are at 80% of capacity. Russia recently topped 2 million reported COVID-19 infections:
The Countries with the Most COVID-19 Cases
  • The U.K. reported its lowest daily case count in almost two months, while officials are relaxing restrictions for Christmas gatherings.
  • There is still no sign that Sweden’s “herd immunity” approach to containing COVID-19 is paying off, even as a third of people in the country’s capital tested positive for virus antibodies. Life expectancy in the country is falling for the first time in more than a century. 
  • China and Japan will ease several virus-related travel restrictions by the end of the month in a move to encourage business travel.
  • Canada’s Alberta province is banning indoor private gatherings after a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country’s westernmost areas.
  • Russia-developed COVID-19 vaccine will reportedly cost under $20, though experts remain concerned with the lack of late-stage testing results of the drug.
  • The global airline industry will lose an estimated $157 billion in 2020 and 2021, according to the International Air Transport Association, a 60% increase from its June forecast. 
  • For the first time since 2009, the global market for personal luxury goods has declined, shrinking back to 2014’s market size after a 23% year-over-year decrease in 2020.
  • McDonald’s announced a three-year plan to invest nearly $400 million in new McCafe locations in China, a move that will likely put strong competitive pressure on the country’s dominant Starbucks franchises.

Our Operations

  • M. Holland will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday.  We wish all Mployees and constituents a safe and happy holiday.
  • Our latest Founders Series video is a tribute to Joan Holland, co-founder and matriarch of M. Holland, who recently passed away.
  • 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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