COVID-19 Bulletin: September 23

September 23, 2020 • Posted in News

Good Afternoon,

More news relevant to the plastics industry:

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Supply

  • Crude prices were higher in early trading today, with the WTI at $39.87/bbl and Brent at $41.87/bbl.
  • The natural gas price was up at $1.86/MMBtu. 
  • The midstream sector is canceling projects and facing consolidation pressures as it grapples with an overcapacity of pipelines due to the drop in oil production.
  • VLCC freight rates have fallen from $250,000 a day a few months ago when vessels were in demand as floating crude storage facilities to $30,000 today, leaving some operators facing a threat to their survival.
  • Despite new sources of real-time data on oil and gas demand, the pandemic has made forecasting highly uncertain.
  • U.S. crude exports have declined from 3.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in February to 2.8 million bpd in June, reported the Energy Information Agency.  
  • China, facing pressure to meet Phase 1 trade agreement quotas, is expected to import a record 900,000 bpd of U.S. crude this month.
  • INEOS Styrolution and AmSty announced plans to build a 100-ton-per-day chemical recycling plant in Illinois.

Supply Chain

  • Houston suffered heavy rains and flash flooding from Beta, which weakened from a tropical storm to a tropical depression and is expected to drop up to 20 inches of rain in some areas.
  • Twenty-seven wildfires continue to burn in California, which has suffered five of the six biggest fires in state history this year.
  • Despite a decline in volumes and revenues, major container shippers earned $2.7 billion in the second quarter due to cost cutting and higher rates.
  • Only 4 of 30 of the world’s major airlines were profitable in the latest quarter; all were Asian carriers that refocused from passenger to cargo flights.
  • 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.

Markets

  • COVID-19 has claimed more than 200,000 lives in the U.S. in just eight months, making it the nation’s third highest cause of death behind cancer and heart attacks.
  • There were 39,334 new COVID-19 infections in the U.S. yesterday with 921 fatalities.
  • COVID-19 infections are trending higher in 27 states today and declining in 13.
  • With the seven-day average for new infections rising in a majority of states and Puerto Rico, fears are rising that an autumn resurgence has begun.
  • Some COVID-19 victims are suffering heart inflammation and damage months after recovering from the virus.
  • Two recent studies validate that asymptomatic COVID-19 patients can carry as much of the virus as those with symptoms and can spread the disease.
  • The FDA is considering stricter requirements for granting emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine in order to allay growing public concerns about inoculation safety.
  • Johnson & Johnson became the fourth vaccine developer to launch large-scale testing and the first to do so with a single-dose vaccine.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives passed a temporary spending bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of September that would maintain funding through December 11.
  • Existing home sales in August reached the highest level in 14 years, up 2.4% from July, and the median price jumped 11.4% to $310,600 year over year.
  • Mortgage demand to buy a new home was up 25% last week from the year-ago period.
  • Ford averted a strike in Canada by agreeing to a tentative contract with the UAW that calls for nearly $2 billion in investment in factories there, including spending to build electric vehicles in Ontario.
  • At its annual Battery Day, Tesla outlined ambitious plans to become the world’s largest carmaker and produce a $25,000 electric vehicle in three years.
  • Home appliance manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand, with shortages and long backlogs expected to persist through the end of the year.
  • Ralph Lauren announced plans to cut 15% of its workforce because of pandemic pressures on clothing retailers.
  • The University of Notre Dame postponed its game next Saturday and paused football operations after seven players tested positive for COVID-19. It’s the 18th major college game to be postponed due to the virus.
  • The pandemic has overshadowed environmental concerns and forced New York’s annual Climate Week online, but it has not deterred major companies from pursuing ambitious sustainability goals.

International

  • India’s infections surged to 83,347 yesterday after dipping the day before. The country has the highest daily infection rate in the world.
  • The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for the European area fell unexpectedly from 51.9 in August to 50.1 in September.
    • Germany’s PMI hit a three-month low, with a gain in manufacturing offset by a drop in the services sector.
    • France’s PMI fell to a four-month low of 48.5 in September from 51.6 in August. Readings below 50 indicate a contracting economy.
    • The U.K. PMI slipped to 55.7 in September from 59.1 in August in a sign that the economic recovery there may be fading in the face of rising COVID-19 infections and renewed governmental restrictions announced yesterday.
  • Scotland has banned visits to other people’s homes to counter an increase in COVID-19 infections.
  • JPMorgan is moving $230 billion in assets from London to Frankfurt because of the U.K.’s exit from the European Union, making the company one of Germany’s top 10 banks. The company also told 200 London employees to move to European cities.
  • Only 1 in 3 small and medium sized companies in Canada have returned to pre-pandemic business levels as the nation’s recovery loses momentum.
  • Finland is piloting the use of coronavirus-sniffing dogs at Helsinki Airport. 

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.

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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