December 8, 2021

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From FedEx to GM, firms halt operations as freeze grips parts of United States

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The rare deep freeze swept southern North America over the three-day Presidents Day holiday weekend, leaving millions without power and sending front-month gas futures to an over three-month high.

By Ankit Ajmera and Shreyasee Raj

Many U.S companies, including FedEx and General Motors, were forced to temporarily shut operations on Tuesday as a bone-chilling winter storm caused power outages and gas shortages in parts of the country.

The rare deep freeze swept southern North America over the three-day Presidents Day holiday weekend, leaving millions without power and sending front-month gas futures to an over three-month high.

General Motors cancelled the first shift at its plants in Spring Hill, Tennessee, Bowling Green in Kentucky, Fort Wayne in Indiana and Arlington in Texas, factories that make some of its most profitable pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles including Chevrolet Silverado and Escalade.

“We will be making decisions at the respective plants later this morning regarding their production status for 2nd shift today,” a GM spokesman said.

Japan’s Toyota Motor and Nissan Motor also scrapped the first shift at some of their U.S. plants. Jeep maker Stellantis said it suspended production on the day shift at its Toledo assembly complex in Ohio.

GM’s smaller rival Ford Motor said it had stopped production of best-selling F-150 pickup trucks at its Kansas City assembly plant until Feb. 21 to conserve its supply of natural gas.

Some other Ford facilities that suspended operations included Hermosillo assembly plant in Mexico, Flat Rock factory in Michigan and Ohio assembly plant in Avon Lake, Ohio.

Package delivery company United Parcel Service said operations at its Dallas hub in Texas and Worldport air hub at Louisville International Airport were back to normal.

The company said it did not have any coronavirus vaccine shipments in its network on Monday night.

UPS rival FedEx said severe weather was affecting its ability to deliver packages in certain cities.

Poultry producer Sanderson Farms said it suspended operations at its Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana (Hammond) processing plants Monday and Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Tyson Foods Inc, the biggest U.S. meat company by sales, said the firm had suspended or scaled back operations at some facilities.

The freeze also wreaked havoc on the U.S. energy sector, bringing operations to a halt at the Houston Ship channel, while several oil refineries remained offline.

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