Today's Logistics Report: Infrastructure's Fast Lane; Seeking Automotive Chips; Coal Biting Back
By Paul Page
Sign up: With one click, get this newsletter delivered to your
Infrastructure is moving closer to the top of White House policy
priorities, thanks to China. President Biden warned that Beijing's
advances in transportation are giving it an advantage over the
U.S., the WSJ's Andrew Restuccia reports, as he pitched Congress on
passing an economic recovery package that includes infrastructure
improvements. Transportation groups in Washington have been
pressing for more attention to highways and ports, and they've
pointed to the expiration this September of the multi-year surface
transport spending plan as the likely impetus. Mr. Biden's support
may advance that schedule. White House aides say infrastructure
will be at the center of a prospective new legislative package
following the $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan now on Capitol Hill.
The president met with a bipartisan group of senators in a bid to
jumpstart an agreement on infrastructure spending, signaling the
plan could be on a fast track.
SUPPLY CHAIN STRATEGIES
The White House is stepping into the semiconductor supply-chain
disruption that is jolting the automotive industry. The actions are
among the first high-profile moves to address shortages that have
slowed assembly lines around the world, including manufacturing
operations at major U.S. auto makers, the WSJ's Alex Leary and Asa
Fitch report. The White House is talking to allies about potential
near-term solutions, but it could take a long time to get a
dependable supply of chips heading to auto plants. The
administration is planning a comprehensive review of supply chains,
including actions the U.S. can take to scale up chip production.
Semiconductor industry executives say it can take months, or even
years, to significantly expand production capacity. The chip
industry is pushing for more investment in U.S. investment in
manufacturing and research, another solution that will take years
to push more electronics to auto makers.
Beijing's ban on Australian coal imports is ricocheting back on
China itself. The diplomatic brawl that has left bulk carriers
languishing at sea is intensifying a crisis in China's coal market,
the WSJ's Chuin-Wei Yap reports, triggering surging prices and
supply shortages during a harsh winter when thermal coal is in high
demand. The ban that was imposed late last year is complicating an
ongoing supply crunch in the country. Authorities are pressing
companies to import more coal from anywhere but Australia, which
has been China's biggest supplier. But Chinese buyers are paying
steep premiums for imports from farther afield, on top of prices
that have risen 84% since midyear. China has tapped into its coal
reserves to meet the demand. That hasn't weighed on the country's
coal-dependent industrial output yet, but persistent high prices
could start hitting China's manufacturing sector, and a public
outcry could grow.
IN OTHER NEWS
The U.K. economy shrank 9.9% in 2020, the country's biggest
annual contraction in three centuries. (WSJ)
Economists in a survey on average expect 4.9% growth in the U.S.
economy this year, an increase from earlier projections. (WSJ)
New U.S. worker filings for unemployment claims fell to the
lowest level since the start of the year. (WSJ)
Home prices are rising at an accelerating pace across the U.S.
A federal trade panel ruled against battery maker SK Innovation
Inc. in a case that could disrupt Ford Motor Corp. and Volkswagen
AG plans to build electric vehicles in the U.S. (WSJ)
New reports forecast that a recovery in global oil demand will
accelerate in the second half of this year. (WSJ)
Royal Dutch Shell PLC says it will cut output 1% to 2% a year as
it seeks to capitalize on a shift to low-carbon power. (WSJ)
Propane prices have climbed more than 70% since late November,
thanks to a surge in patio heating and rising exports to Asia.
Steelmaker ArcelorMittal swung to a $1.21 billion profit in the
fourth quarter despite declining revenue. (Dow Jones Newswires)
Brazil raised its forecast for soybean and corn production in
the current growing season. (Dow Jones Newswires)
At least five people were killed in a massive pileup on an icy
Texas interstate involving tractor-trailers and 70 to 100 cars.
Two credit rating agencies turned negative on SF Holding after t
he Chinese company's decision to take a controlling stake in Kerry
Logistics for $2.3 billion. (Nikkei Asian Review)
A measure of U.S. business spending on freight and shipping rose
12.3% in the fourth quarter. (CSCMP Supply Chain Quarterly)
Sportswear manufacturer Under Armour Inc. will stop supplying up
to 3,000 stores in the next year as it advances direct-to-consumer
Experts project rising demand and a sparse vessel order book
will fuel a "supercycle" for dry-bulk shipping in the next two
years. (Lloyd's List)
Freight companies say congestion began slowing container
operations at major Chinese ports leading up to the Lunar New Year.
(Journal of Commerce)
Ocean Network Express is testing use of a biofuel in a
trans-Atlantic container ship sailing. (Splash 247)
Ocean forwarder ECU Worldwide's IT systems were taken down by a
"cyber incident." (The Loadstar)
Royal Mail PLC's parcel volumes rose 30% to 496 million packages
in the last three months of 2020. (The Guardian)
A 23-year-old United Parcel Service Inc. driver was shot and
killed while making deliveries in downtown Raleigh, N.C. (Raleigh
News & Observer)
The Oxfordshire area northwest of London has become a magnet for
e-commerce fulfillment operations. (Logistics Manager)
A California court rejected a request by maritime and trucking
groups to slow development of a baseball stadium at a Port of
Oakland freight terminal. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Paul Page is editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow the WSJ
Logistics Report team: @PaulPage, @jensmithWSJ and @CostasParis.
Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.
Write to Paul Page at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 12, 2021 09:51 ET (14:51 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.