COVID-19 Bulletin: November 4
November 4, 2020 • Posted in COVID-19
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- A report of a surprisingly high draw on crude inventories sent prices higher yesterday.
- Crude prices were higher in mid-day trading today, with the WTI up 3.3% at $38.89/bbl and Brent up 3.4% at $41.04/bbl. Natural gas was 0.3% lower at $3.05/MMBtu.
- Fortunes within the fracking industry are diverging, with oil producers suffering deeper distress due to low oil prices and natural gas producers enjoying steadier demand and improving prices as cold weather approaches.
- Algeria, which holds the presidency of OPEC, issued public support for delaying planned increases of OPEC output to avoid another collapse in prices. Country representatives said both Saudi Arabia and Russia support prolonging the current supply cuts past the new year.
- Norwegian energy company Equinor announced a goal of net zero emissions by 2050, spurred by wind farm acquisitions, hydrogen development, and increased carbon capture and storage.
- Spanish energy company Iberdrola will acquire PNM Resources to create the third-largest renewable energy producer in the U.S., with operations in 24 states.
- Luxembourg-based Pacific Drilling filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a result of efforts to restructure $1.1 billion in bond debt spurred by the collapse of oil during the pandemic.
- Energy company stocks have diverged 60% from the broader market since their most recent highs, making the sector the worst performing in history.
- Daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S. rose to 91,530 yesterday, the second highest on record, with 1,130 fatalities.
- Wisconsin and Minnesota reported record numbers of new COVID-19 cases at 5,771 and 3,483, respectively.
- Ohio reported 4,229 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, a record.
- Texas surpassed California as the state with the highest number of COVID-19 infections, as total case numbers approach 1 million.
- Drugstore chains including CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart and Walgreens Boots Alliance are lobbying lawmakers to give pharmacy technicians authority to administer an eventual COVID-19 vaccination.
- Last week, children accounted for a record-setting 61,000+ new COVID-19 cases. Children represent about 11% of all new infections in the U.S.
- Evidence from several states show that school children are probably not major spreaders of COVID-19 in any given community.
- The rate of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. is exceeding predictive models from Morgan Stanley, prompting the investment bank’s analysts to urge more governmental restrictions similar to Europe.
- As holidays approach, health officials are reminding people that they can still have the virus and be contagious even if they test negative due to the up to 14-day incubation period before symptoms set in.
- Health experts are urging the U.S. and Europe to adopt a “cluster-busting” approach to contact tracing used with success in Asia, where the source of a person’s infection is recorded along with their subsequent contacts.
- The FDA is warning health care providers about potential false positives associated with rapid-result antigen tests, which countries are adopting more and more due to their affordability and ease of use.
- ADP reported that private-payroll growth slowed in October, with 350,000 added jobs versus estimates of a 600,000-job gain.
- In search for new revenue sources, hotel companies are offering day rates to encourage remote workers seeking a break from their home offices.
- Commercial real estate companies are seeing surging suburban demand, helping to offset downtown losses as both small and large companies seek to get away from cramped urban environments.
- Bankruptcy could be the only option out of the complex web of financing for retail malls, as evidenced by the latest string of filings from mall owners over the weekend.
- Most of J.C. Penney retail operations and stores will be acquired by landlords Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners, as the company finalized a plan to sell itself out of bankruptcy.
- Clorox experienced its fastest growth in two decades with a 27% jump in sales as consumers increasingly buy up virus-killing products.
- New orders for U.S.-made goods increased 1.1% from August to September, led by demand for metals, computers, electronics and motor vehicles. Orders slowed for machinery, furniture, electrical equipment, appliances and components.
- The NFL is discussing expanding this year’s playoffs to include 16 teams, a byproduct of missed games during the regular season due to player and staff COVID-19 infections.
- Denver Broncos general manager John Elway and team president Joe Ellis have contracted COVID-19.
- The University of Wisconsin’s 10th ranked football team, unable to contain the spread of COVID-19 among players and staff, was forced to cancel its second game in two weeks and has played only one game since the Big Ten resumed its season.
- A 109-year-old Canadian woman who has lived through two pandemics recently celebrated her birthday after recovering from a bout with COVID-19.
- France reported the largest increase of virus deaths since mid-April, boosted in part by new nursing home data. French officials are considering midnight curfews in Paris and the surrounding region as people continually ignore lockdown rules while infections soar.
- German authorities urged hospitals to postpone non-critical operations to preserve resources for an expected surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
- Virus cases are climbing in Eastern Europe:
- Daily virus infections broke 7,000 in Romania for the first time since the pandemic began.
- Daily fatalities in Bulgaria reached their highest number at 51.
- Hungary reported a record 3,989 daily cases, while officials called a state of emergency and imposed a midnight curfew.
- Serbia recently reported a daily record of 1,878 new cases.
- Russia reported more than 18,000 new cases, with officials expecting the daily toll to peak in mid-November.
- Sweden, which so far has resisted lockdowns and social restrictions, may see its first measures to restrict a “very serious situation” of rising cases.
- Lockdowns have been expanded in the Netherlands, where officials are contemplating further measures such as curfews and school closures.
- The Danish parliament is suspending voting after several lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19.
- A month-long partial lockdown was re-imposed in Greece.
- Iran set a daily record of new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.
- After recording a peak of almost 100,000 cases per day in September, India’s daily infection rate has fallen to less than 40,000, along with a drop in active cases and an increase in recoveries.
- Algeria’s 74-year-old president tested positive for COVID-19 and is being treated at a German hospital.
- Italy is readying almost $2 billion for further relief to businesses affected by another round of lockdowns, including an overnight curfew imposed on Tuesday.
- The U.S. and Taiwan recorded their first COVID-19 cases within a day of each other in the spring; however, one country has suffered more than 230,000 deaths, while the other has a total case count of only a few hundred and has largely returned to normal.
- The purchasing managers index (PMI) for the eurozone fell to 50, the threshold between economic expansion and contraction, indicating the region may be entering a double-dip recession.
- Germany’s PMI fell to 49.5 last month, its first decline in four months.
- The PMI in France fell at its fastest pace in five months in October, landing at 47.5.
- India’s PMI rose to 54.1 in October, the first increase of the pandemic.
- Australia, which has largely tamed the pandemic, saw retail sales rise by a record 6.5% in the third quarter on increasing consumer optimism.
- While reporting strong third-quarter earnings, BMW warned that the auto industry recovery could be undone by rising COVID-19 infections and renewed lockdowns.
- Electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen vehicles will make up 20% of all new car sales in China, the world’s biggest auto market, by 2025, officials say.
- Volkswagen is vying for position in China’s fast-growing electric vehicle market, introducing two new electric sport-utility vehicles in the country on Tuesday.
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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.