COVID-19 Bulletin: September 11

September 11, 2020 • Posted in News

Good Afternoon,

We are mourning the passing of Joan Holland, 91, who co-founded M. Holland Company with her husband, Marvin, 70 years ago.


More pandemic news relevant to the plastics industry:

Some sources linked are subscription services.

Supply

  • Crude prices were down in early trading today, with the WTI at $37.21/bbl and Brent below $40 at $39.85/bbl.
  • The natural gas price was down 2% at $2.29/MMBtu. 
  • Delaware became the sixth state or city to sue the petrochemicals industry for the impacts of climate change, naming some of the country’s leading oil companies as well as the American Petroleum Institute.
  • BP will invest $1.1 billion in two offshore wind projects in partnership with Equinor in pursuit of its goal of building 50 gigawatts of renewable power generation capacity over the next 10 years.
  • LyondellBasell, experiencing raw material shortages due to Hurricane Laura, yesterday declared force majeure on polypropylene compounds.
  • Covestro yesterday declared force majeure on polycarbonate products due to production disruptions caused by Hurricane Laura.  
  • Braskem began commercial polypropylene production at its new facility in LaPorte, Texas.

Supply Chain

  • More than 100 wildfires in 12 western states have now burned more than 5.3 million acres, roughly the size of Israel.
  • Half a million Oregonians, over 10% of the state’s population, were forced to evacuate as more than 30 wildfires burned nearly 1 million acres and killed four.
  • Air quality in many areas of California, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, are at hazardous levels due to wildfires burning throughout the state.
Spiralling Cost of Californias Wildfires
  • Western ports, which suffered double-digit declines in business early in the pandemic, are now “busting at the seams” with surging imports, causing havoc for the strained trucking industry.
  • Some major corporations, such as Lockheed Martin and Micron Technology, are paying suppliers early to help smaller companies survive the downturn and protect their supply chains.
  • Uber Freight said spot freight rates are up 31% as surging demand coincides with a shortage of drivers.
  • The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (USA/CAN/MEX) Roadcheck that ends today may reduce capacity and service levels.
  • 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 assure delivery dates will be met.

Markets

  • New COVID-19 cases nationally increased for the second consecutive day yesterday to 34,835.  
  • Eight states have rising infection trends this week, while 12 registered triple-digit new infections yesterday.
  • North Dakota faces daunting dual challenges with among the highest rates of COVID-19 infections in the nation and 80% of its oil rigs idled due to the energy recession. 
  • U.S. consumer prices rose 0.4% in August, the third consecutive month of higher-than-anticipated increases, but the high unemployment rate is expected to keep a lid on inflation.
  • Used car prices were up 5.4% in August, the highest monthly jump since 1969, accounting for 40% of the 0.4% increase in core inflation, which strips out food and energy prices.
  • In addition to the 884,000 people who filed first-time jobless claims with states last week, another 838,916 self-employed and contract employees filed first-time claims under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
  • The U.S. Senate failed to pass a slimmed down pandemic relief bill yesterday, dimming hopes for further federal aid before the November election.
  • The pandemic has forced scaled-down ceremonies commemorating the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
  • The CDC ended funneling international passengers through 15 airports for screening because asymptomatic victims of COVID-19 made the practice ineffective.   
  • Starting Monday, those who refuse to wear masks on New York City’s subways will face $50 fines.
  • Peloton reported its first profit ever in the latest quarter on a 172% increase in year-over-year revenue as fitness-conscious consumers turn to home workouts during the pandemic.
  • J.P. Morgan said senior sales and trading employees must return to the office by September 21.
  • Digital video services are experiencing surging demand from the pandemic:
Microsoft Teams Sees Jump in Usage as Remote Work Surges
Zooms Revenue Skyrockets on Pandemic Boost
  • The Labor Department fined Smithfield Foods for failing to protect workers from a COVID-19 outbreak.

International

  • China has begun human testing of a nasal vaccine for COVID-19.
  • India has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases globally (over 4.5 million) but a relatively low mortality rate, worrying health experts about the integrity of its reporting as the government lifts restrictions.
  • Factory output in India contracted by a higher-than-expected 10.4% in July, but less than the 16.6% contraction in June.
  • COVID-19 is spreading exponentially in the U.K. for the first time since March, driven by a spike in cases among young people.
  • Brexit talks unraveled further as the European Union threatened the U.K. with legal action if it fails to withdraw changes it made to agreements signed last January. The British pound fell sharply.
  • The head of the European Central Bank called for continued fiscal stimulus and warned about “complacency,” citing the “uneven, incomplete and asymmetric” nature of the economic recovery.
  • Thanks to government stimulus efforts, the ratio of household debt to disposable income in Canada is at the lowest level in a decade.
  • Puerto Rico, headquarters of M. Holland Export Services, is reopening beaches, casinos, gyms and theaters but maintaining other restrictions and a curfew in the wake of improving COVID-19 infection rates.

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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