COVID-19 Bulletin: September 2

September 2, 2020 • Posted in News

Good Afternoon,

More news relevant to the plastics industry:

Supply

  • Crude prices were lower in early trading today, with the WTI at $42.44/bbl and Brent at $45.31/bbl. Natural gas prices also were lower at 2.52/MMBtu.  
  • The Energy Information Administration reported a higher-than-expected inventory draw last week of 9.4 million barrels.
  • Solar and wind comprised two-thirds of the world’s new energy production last year, marking the first time alternative energy accounted for a majority of new energy sources.
  • Oil field services giant Schlumberger is selling its U.S. fracking business after this year’s collapse in demand.
  • Borealis expanded its capability and global footprint in wire and cable with the acquisition of a controlling stake in compounder DYM Solution of South Korea.

Supply Chain

  • Texas temporarily eased some trucking regulations to facilitate recovery efforts following Hurricane Laura.
  • Despite global food surpluses, the world could see more daily deaths from hunger than COVID-19 by year end due to inequities and supply chain issues exposed by the pandemic. 
  • Autonomous truck startups are seeking entry into the freight industry, with some building new fleets and others attempting to integrate with existing carriers.
  • The rapid development of autonomous vehicles is spawning new technologies that will cross into other industries, such as computer vision, synthetic data, robotic navigation and sensor technology. 
  • Some Amazon drivers are gaming the gig economy by hanging cell phones from trees near busy pickup points to win delivery assignments by appearing in closer proximity than other drivers.
  • We anticipate the Labor Day holiday will cause roadway congestion this weekend and early next week, impacting trucking capacity, pricing and performance.  
  • The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has scheduled its (USA/CAN/MEX) Roadcheck for September 9 to 11 — we expect this to reduce capacity and service levels for the week.
  • Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates will be met.

Markets

  • New COVID-19 infections, which fell below 34,000 on Monday, the lowest daily count since June, climbed back above 43,000 yesterday with reopened schools among the hot spots. Deaths exceeded 1,000.
  • Twenty-eight states have rising trends for new COVID-19 cases this week.
  • Seven of nine Sunbelt states hit hard by COVID-19 this summer are seeing declines in new cases, deaths and test positivity.
    • Alabama remains the lone Sunbelt state experiencing rising case, death and positivity rates.
    • The death rate in Mississippi continues to rise, while infections and positivity ratings are on the decline.
  • Five Midwestern states — Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota — have experienced their highest COVID-19 infection levels of the pandemic over the past seven days.
  • U.S. factory output continued to rebound in August, according to two leading surveys, but factory employment remains fragile with 800,000 fewer workers than before the pandemic.
  • Recent clinical trials confirm that steroids can help seriously ill COVID-19 patients survive.
  • A study group advising the federal government released guidelines for the distribution of an eventual vaccine, placing healthcare workers and vulnerable populations at the top of the list.
  • The U.S. will not participate in the World Health Organization-led COVAX initiative, a coalition of more than 170 countries committed to ensuring an eventual vaccine will be equitably distributed globally.
  • The CDC is executing a moratorium on evictions for individuals making less than $99,000 a year who face homelessness if evicted, stoking resistance from landlords and concerns about future indebtedness for struggling renters.
  • Separately, California passed eviction protections that give pandemic-impacted renters a reprieve from evictions through January 2021 if they pay 25% of their monthly rent. 
  • Insurers are winning court cases upholding their denial of business interruption payouts to companies hurt by government shutdowns.
  • Auditing firms are struggling to conduct audits during the pandemic with employees dispersed by work-from-home protocols and new safety procedures at offices and factories.
  • North American plastics machinery shipments rose 4% in the second quarter compared with the first quarter but remained 10.7% below the year-ago period.
  • German automotive supplier Continental plans to cut up to 30,000 jobs by 2025 as part of a global restructuring prompted by the pandemic and expectations that automotive demand will not return to 2017 levels until mid-decade.
  • Gap said it will close more than 225 mall-based Gap and Banana Republic stores this year, three times more than previously announced, with more closures expected next year. 
  • Department chain Lord & Taylor is liquidating after nearly 200 years in business; Amazon is converting Lord & Taylor’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York into office space for tech workers.
  • Cosmetics sales are suffering as more people don masks during the prolonged pandemic.
  • Improving ventilation through filtration and increased intake of outdoor air can significantly mitigate the risk of infection in schools and offices.
  • Unilever plans to spend $1.2 billion to eliminate fossil fuels from its cleaning products by 2030, which would reduce the company’s carbon footprint by about 20%. Sales of cleaning products have soared during the pandemic.
  • COVID-19 “long haulers” find themselves in a purgatory of uncertainty as they experience mysterious and sometimes debilitating aftereffects from the virus. 

International

  • China’s economy continued to improve in August, with the Purchasing Managers Index rising to 53.1 from 52.8 in July, the fastest growth in a decade.
  • Brazil officially tipped into recession in the second quarter, reporting a record 9.7% quarter-over-quarter contraction in GDP and an 11.4% drop compared with the prior-year period.
  • Australia’s GDP contracted a larger-than-expected 7% in the second quarter, the largest decline since records began in 1959, officially throwing the country into its first recession in three decades.
  • Europe’s COVID-19 infection rate has risen back to the level in March when the pandemic began to accelerate.
  • Thailand, the first country outside China to suffer a COVID-19 infection, has gone more than 100 days without a local COVID-19 infection amidst growing pressure to reopen its borders to restore tourism, which comprises 20% of the economy. 

Our Operations

  • We will be closed next Monday for the Labor Day holiday.
  • To access 3D Printing training, order parts and seek technical assistance, visit our new online resource.
  • Resource Center: M. Holland offers a host of resources to clients, prospects and suppliers. To arrange a videoconference or meeting, contact:
  • 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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