COVID-19 Bulletin: October 2
October 2, 2020 • Posted in
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Oil prices slid about 5% on news that the
U.S. president contracted COVID-19, joining a slump impacting global commodity and equity markets. Crude prices
continued to fall in early trading, with the WTI down 3.6% at $37.33/bbl and Brent down 3.7% at $39.43/bbl. Natural gas was down 1.3% at $2.49/MMBtu. Valuations of major oil companies are
down 57% this year, missing the recovery in the broader stock markets. Sasol will sell a
$2 billion stake in its Lake Charles, Louisiana, complex to LyondellBasell.
Northern California wildfires could intensify due to
Diablo winds from the Diablo mountain range, which typically peak in October and November. Californians are being asked to
cut electrical use to avoid rolling blackouts due to strains on the grid. Amazon reported that nearly 20,000 employees have contracted COVID-19, about
1.4% of its workforce. The United Nation’s regulatory body for global shipping was
struck by a cyberattack on Wednesday, with its website and systems still down late Thursday. It was the latest in a number of attacks against the global shipping industry. Retailers are
scrambling to align with delivery services as the competitive battlefield turns to same-day delivery for online sales with the approaching holiday season. Trucking capacity remains tight throughout the U.S., and spot pricing remains elevated.
Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates will be met.
The U.S. president and first lady
tested positive for COVID-19. COVID-19 infections in the U.S. increased to
43,752 yesterday and there were 857 deaths. New York is experiencing its highest COVID-19 infection rate since May concentrated in
20 zip code hotspots. Companies have been frustrated in their efforts to develop an
effective spit test for COVID-19, discouraging hopes that the method could be used for broad home testing. Test subjects of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in development have suffered high fever, achiness, headaches and exhaustion, but
the effects are not long lasting. The House of Representatives voted on its economic stimulus plan after negotiations with the White House stalled, leaving the outlook for a
fourth rescue package in limbo. A day after 32,000 airline workers were furloughed, the Speaker of the House opened the door to a
standalone federal rescue package for the airline industry. Job growth in September
slowed to 661,000, lower than expected, breaking a string of four consecutive months of 1 million-plus gains. The unemployment rate stands at 7.9%. The
U.S. purchasing managers index for manufacturing increased for the fourth consecutive month to 55.4%, but sector employment is lagging, and manufacturing activity remains 7.3% below the pre-pandemic level. Credit ratings agency Fitch lowered its ratings on
New York and New York City, citing financial challenges posed by the pandemic. Apartment sales in Manhattan
fell by 46% in the third quarter, underscoring the migration occurring as people flee crowded urban areas. With utility shutoff bans expiring in many states, Americans have racked up more than
$24 billion in unpaid bills, and nearly 179 million face possible shutoffs.
Auto loan delinquencies inched up in August as forbearance protections expired. The U.S. automotive industry
continued its recovery in the third quarter, closing the year-over-year sales gaps of prior quarters during the pandemic. GM is considering
increasing its stake in electric truck startup Nikola after its CEO resigned and stock price collapsed. Demand for 5G devices is expected to soar from $5.5 billion today to
$668 billion in five years, prompting patent fights across a range of industries. The White House issued a proclamation pronouncing today as
National Manufacturing Day. Amazon’s new
Explore platform offers virtual tours of landmark destinations for a fee. PlanetCare has introduced a
washing machine filter that can catch 90% of microfibers dislodged in the wash cycle before they enter waste streams. Scientists at the University of Portsmouth have developed an enzyme that can
break down PET six times faster than current technology.
As the U.K. extended household gathering limits in more areas of the country, officials in London warned residents that the city is at “
a tipping point” in urging greater care about social distancing. Cities across Europe are imposing social distancing restrictions as they experience record new COVID-19 infections; officials in Paris are
considering reclosing restaurants in the city and its suburbs. Malaysia is
considering restoring restrictions after experiencing a record increase in COVID-19 infections today. Nine of Latin America’s 10 most populous countries are seeing a decline in COVID-19 infections. The region has experienced
more than 300,000 fatalities from the virus, the highest in the world. China was the only major economy to register positive GDP growth in the second quarter:
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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.