Latest News Today – Zomato, Disney+ Hotstar, PSN, Steam, Paytm Down in Major

Huge parts of the Internet including Zomato, Paytm, Disney+ Hostar, Sony LIV, Paytm, PlayStation Network (PSN), and Steam were down for many users around the world. About an hour after the outages started being reported, Internet infrastructure provider Akamai confirmed that it is facing an outage. According to Internet outage tracker DownDetector, the outage seems to have started at around 8.55pm on Thursday evening. [Update: By around 10.20pm, Akamai was able to implement a fix bringing back normal operations]. Within five minutes, the number of reports from people unable to access Zomato alone stood at around 3,000. There were similar scenes playing out with a number of other services too.

Some NDTV sites were also affected in this outage, and Akamai has promised an update within 30 minutes. You can see the status on Akamai’s website. According to DownDetector, some of the affected sites include (but are not limited to) popular gaming services Steam and PSN, streaming services like Disney+ Hotstar, Zee5 and SonyLIV, and e-commerce platforms like Zomato, Amazon, and Paytm were also all affected.

[Update: By around 10.20pm, a little over an hour after the outage started, it appears that most sites are back online. Akamai also posted that it has implemented a fix, which has brought back normal operations. At this point, it has not shared details on what caused the outage.]

The scale of this outage is also an indicator of just how huge a part of the overall Internet infrastructure Akamai represents at this point. Major Internet outages of this type seem to be occurring frequently — last month on June 8 a huge chunk of the Internet was inaccessible with popular sites like Reddit, Twitch, and Amazon all affected.

The June 2021 outage was caused by an issue with the Fastly CDN, whose clients included not just popular websites like the ones mentioned, but related infrastructure in turn, leading to a series of failures around the Web. Fastly later explained that the outage was caused when one of its customers changed settings, leading to the global outage.

Earlier this month, a major outage at Amazon impacted users around the world – not just for the Amazon e-commerce platform, but also for a huge number of sites and applications making use of its AWS platform. Before that, in August, there was a huge outage incident involving Google which also made a huge impact. In the August 2020 outage, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, and other Google services all faced disruptions for several hours.

Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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How to Make Your Fridge and Freezer as Efficient as Possible | Sidnaz Blog

Spoiler alert! This video will keep your food from going bad.

Far too often your milk spoils while the LaCroix in the back freezes and the can explodes.

So we put together a visual guide (a video, if you will) of the most efficient way to organize your fridge and freezer. The main things to remember are that the door is the warmest part of the fridge, and anything you need to use up should be kept in the front and in easy eyesight.

Oh also, take extra precautions with raw meat juice.

This article was originally published on August 26, 2019, and updated on July 22, 2021.

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Latest News Today – Government Overhauls Petroleum Reserve Policy To Boost

India is the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer

India has decided to commercialise half of its current strategic petroleum reserves (SPRs) as the nation looks to enhance private participation in the building of new storage facilities, two government sources told Reuters on Thursday.

The shift in policy was approved this month by the federal cabinet, they said. Allowing commercialisation of SPRs mirrors a model adopted by countries such as Japan and South Korea which allow private lesees, mostly oil majors, to re-export crude.

India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, imports over 80 per cent of its oil needs and has built strategic storage at three locations in southern part of the country to store up to 5 million tonnes of oil to protect against supply disruption.

Private entities taking storage on lease will be allowed to re-export 1.5 million tonnes of oil stored in the caverns in the case of Indian companies refusing to buy the crude, they said.

Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd, a company charged with building of SPRs, will be allowed to sell 1 million tonnes of crude to local buyers, they added.

So far Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) has leased 750,000 tonnes of oil storage in the 1.5-million-tonne Mangalore SPR.

Last year India allowed ADNOC to export half of its oil in Mangalore SPRs as the middle eastern oil major found it difficult to sell oil to Indian refiners.

India also plans to build strategic storage at Chandikhol in Odisha and Padur in Karnataka for around 6.5 million tonnes of crude to provide an additional cover of 12 days of net oil imports, they said.

The cabinet earlier this month also decided to provide up to 80 billion rupees of financial support, equivalent to about 60 per cent of the estimated cost, for building two new SPRs, they said.

ISPRL will soon float an initial tender for building the new reserves. “Whoever seek less federal support will be considered for participation in the new caverns,” said one source.

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Latest News Today – Can’t Have One Legal System For Rich And One For Poor:

India cannot have two parallel legal systems, Supreme Court said.

New Delhi:

India cannot have two parallel legal systems, one for the rich and resourceful and those who wield political power and the other for “small men” without resources and capabilities to access justice, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.

The Supreme Court also said the “colonial mindset meted out to the district judiciary” must change to preserve the faith of citizens and stated that judges are “made targets when they stand up for what is right”.

The Supreme Court made these crucial observations while cancelling the bail granted to Madhya Pradesh BSP MLA’s husband, who was arrested in over two-year-old murder case of Congress leader Devendra Chourasia.

An independent and impartial judiciary is the cornerstone of democracy and it should be immune from political pressures and considerations, the Supreme Court said.

“India cannot have two parallel legal systems, one for the rich and resourceful and those who wield political power and the other for small men without resources without capabilities to gain justice.

“The existence of dual system will only chip away the legitimacy of the law. The duty also falls on the state machinery to be committed to the rule of law,” the Supreme Court said.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and M R Shah said district judiciary is the first point of interface with the citizens.

“If the faith of citizens in the judiciary is to be preserved, it is the district judiciary on which attention must be focused,” the bench said.

The Supreme Court said trial court judges work amidst appalling conditions, lack of infrastructure, inadequate protection and there are examples of judges being made targets when they stand up for what is right.

“The colonial mindset meted out to the district judiciary must change, it is only then that civil liberties for every citizen, be it accused victim or civil society, will be meaningfully preserved in our trial courts which are first line of defence for those who are being wronged,” the bench said.

The Supreme Court said function of the judiciary as an independent institution is rooted in concept of separation of powers.

Individual judges must be able to adjudicate disputes in accordance with law unhindered by any other factors and for that reason independence of judiciary and of each judge is a must, the bench said.

Independence of individual judges also encompasses that they are independent of their superiors and colleagues, it said adding that our constitution specially envisages Independence of district judiciary which is mentioned in Article 50.

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Latest News Today – OnePlus Nord 2 5G First Impressions: Still Finding North

The OnePlus Nord was launched in July last year to focus on the sub-Rs. 25,000 price segment. As OnePlus flagships got more and more expensive, the OnePlus Nord promised good performance at a somewhat more affordable price. Now, it has been discontinued, clearing the way for an even more affordable model, the Nord CE 5G, and its true successor, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G. This new OnePlus smartphone has an improved camera setup and a MediaTek Dimensity processor. Does it still deliver the OnePlus experience? I got my hands on the OnePlus Nord 2 5G and here are my first impressions of the device.


OnePlus Nord 2 price in India

The OnePlus Nord 2 starts at Rs. 27,999 in India for the base variant, which has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There are two more variants of the OnePlus Nord 2, one with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and finally 12GB of RAM with 256GB of storage. These are priced at Rs. 29,999 and Rs. 34,999 respectively. I had the top-of-the-line variant with me for review.

The OnePlus Nord 2 looks familiar and seems in place along with the OnePlus 9 series and the OnePlus Nord CE 5G (Review). Picking up the OnePlus Nord 2, it instantly feels premium to the touch. It has a 6.43-inch display with a camera hole in the top left corner for its 32-megapixel selfie shooter. The OnePlus Nord 2 5G sports an AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and full-HD+ resolution. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protection for the display as well as the back.

The mid-frame of the OnePlus Nord 2 5G is made out of plastic. On the right side, it has the power button and the alert slider (which is missing on the OnePlus Nord CE 5G), and on the left are the volume buttons. I found the button placement to be quite good, and reaching them wasn’t an issue during one handed use. The USB Type-C port, loudspeaker, SIM tray, and primary mic are at the bottom, while the secondary mic is at the top. The OnePlus Nord 2 5G has dual speakers – the earpiece doubles up as the secondary speaker for stereo sound.

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G has Corning Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and back


On the back, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G has a triple camera setup and the camera module bears some resemblance with that of the OnePlus 9R (Review). The camera module consists of a 50-megapixel primary camera with an f/1.88 aperture and OIS. There’s also an 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera with EIS and a f/2.25 aperture. These two sensors look like they have big lenses while the 2-megapixel mono camera is smaller and sits next to the flash. The OnePlus logo is slap bang in the centre of the rear panel .

OnePlus offers the Nord 2 5G in three colour options, Gray Sierra, Blue Haze, and the India exclusive  Green Wood. I had a Blue Haze unit with me, and it did not pick up smudges easily. OnePlus also offers a case in the box. The phone weighs 189g and is 8.25mm thick. It does not feel very bulky, and one-handed use is possible.

oneplus nord 2 5g camera module OnePlus Nord 2 5G First Impressions

The triple camera setup on the OnePlus Nord 2 has a 50-megapixel primary camera


OnePlus has opted for a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 processor which has been somewhat customised with additional AI processing power to create the Dimensity 1200-AI, according to both companies. This is also a little surprising since other OnePlus devices so far have been powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors. There are 6GB, 8GB, and 12GB RAM options, with 128GB of storage for the lower two and 256GB on the highest one. Storage is non-expandable and the Nord 2 5G only has two Nano-SIM slots with support for dual 5G. There is also support for WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, and five satellite navigation systems. The Nord 2 5G packs in a 4,500mAh battery and comes with a Warp Charge 65W charger in the box.

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G runs OxygenOS 11.3 based on Android 11. My unit had the June Android security patch. The UI is clean and only a few Google and OnePlus apps, plus Netflix, were preinstalled. I did not have any issues navigating through the UI and found it to be intuitive to use.

oneplus nord 2 5g alert slider OnePlus Nord 2 5G First Impressions

The alert slider on the OnePlus Nord 2 5G lets you quickly change ringer state


The side-mounted fingerprint scanner is quick to unlock the device, and given the 12GB of RAM that my review unit has, I did not face any hiccups while multitasking. The “enhanced” MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI showed a lot of promise and it’ll be interesting to test OnePlus’s claims that there are additional camera, gaming, and display features enabled by the AI enhancement. The Realme X7 Max 5G (Review) and the upcoming Poco F3 GT are two smartphones with the same SoC, minus OnePlus’ customisations, so it’ll be interesting to see how the OnePlus Nord 2 5G fares.

Overall, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G seems like an upgrade over the original Nord in every respect, based on the specs. However, it has gone up in price as well, so it’ll be interesting to see if this new smartphone still offers good value for money, or whether you’d be better off with the Nord CE 5G. I will be putting the Nord 2 5G through benchmarks and camera tests, so stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for the full review, coming up soon.

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Smaller but More Frequent Catastrophes Loom Over Insurance Sector | Sidnaz Blog

Less devastating than mega events such as earthquakes and hurricanes, these secondary perils, as they are known in the industry, happen relatively frequently and include hail, drought, wildfire, snow, flash floods and landslides.

Climate change and urban sprawl are driving a jump in secondary perils losses, said Tamara Soyka, Head Cat Perils EMEA at

Swiss Re.

Insurers and reinsurers, who traditionally focused on predicting big weather events that can cause widespread damage, are increasingly incorporating secondary-peril models.

Swiss Re, for instance, last year started considering pluvial—that is, heavy rainfall, similar to the recent European floods—flood zones when assessing risks.

A storm system over Europe dumped heavy rains in recent weeks, causing heavy floods in Germany, Belgium and parts of the Netherlands and Switzerland. The German Insurance Association on Wednesday said it expects insured losses could hit nearly $6 billion as a result of the flooding in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. It doesn’t yet have estimates for the damage in Saxony and Bavaria.

Before-and-after images show the extent of damage in German towns hit by the region’s worst flooding in decades. Visiting one inundated village, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for more effort to combat future climate-related disasters. Photo: Satellite Image ©2021 Maxar Technologies

This year is expected to be the most damaging for the country since 2002, when insured storm damage totaled about €11 billion, equivalent to $12.98 billion, the association said. While mostly all residential buildings have windstorm and hail coverage, only 46% of homeowners have cover for heavy rain and floods.

Heavy rain, hailstorms and wind in Germany and Switzerland in June have already cost the industry an estimated $4.5 billion, according to analysts at Berenberg.

Analysts at

Moody’s Investors Service

in a note this week said German insurers “may find it challenging to protect homeowners against climate risk without significant price increases.”

Insurers paid out $81 billion for damages related to natural catastrophes in 2020, according to reinsurance giant Swiss Re, up 50% from 2019 and comfortably topping the $74 billion 10-year average for such losses.

Secondary peril events accounted for more than 70% of the $81 billion in natural catastrophe losses last year, according to the data.

Firms expected to take hits to their earnings from the European floods include Swiss Re,

Munich Re AG


Zurich Insurance Group,

according to analysts. Spokespeople for Swiss Re, Zurich and Munich Re declined to give estimates of the potential impact.

UBS Group AG analysts project $6 billion worth of losses for the industry, split into $2 billion for primary insurers and $4 billion for reinsurers.


Have you been affected by a natural disaster? What was your experience working with insurance companies? Join the conversation below.

The prospect of more intense weather has insurers rapidly updating their risk-assessment models and recalculating the price of insurance. Property insurers faced an estimated $18 billion bill for damage to homes and businesses from the long stretch of frigid weather in Texas and numerous other states, the equivalent of a major hurricane, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year.

In some cases, the increased frequency of extreme weather events can lead insurers to drop coverage altogether. Some insurers in California chose to not renew insurance policies for homeowners in high-risk areas for wildfires, the Journal reported in 2019. California wildfires the prior two years had killed dozens of people and racked up more than $24 billion in insured losses.

Analysts say the losses from the European flooding will be manageable for the industry. While they may dent quarterly or yearly earnings, they won’t have a seismic effect on their capital. If the coming U.S. hurricane season is a normal one, that will likely crimp earnings further for some.

Flooding in Altenahr, Germany. In some cases, the increased frequency of extreme weather events can lead insurers to drop coverage altogether.


friedemann vogel/Shutterstock

The Euro Stoxx Insurance index is up 7.6% this year, trailing the broad Euro Stoxx 600 stock-market index, which is up nearly 15%. The insurance index has fallen 6.4% since March 30, which Berenberg analysts attribute to fears of potential dividend cuts due to recent natural catastrophes.

The costs of reinsurance in Asia and the U.S. went up over the past couple of years owing to hurricanes and wildfires, said Berenberg analyst Michael Huttner. But prices in Europe didn’t increase significantly over that period. The floods will likely help catastrophe pricing increase, said Mr. Huttner.

Will Hardcastle, an analyst at UBS, says this year is shaping up to be the fifth consecutive year that natural catastrophe losses will be above reinsurers’ budgeted level.

“The last five years would suggest you’re not getting appropriate pricing for it,” he said. “It’s always difficult to determine whether the trend is short term. Now at this point you have to be thinking it’s more structural” because of climate change, he said.

Write to Julie Steinberg at [email protected]

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Latest News Today – Government Clears Incentive Scheme For Speciality Steel

Union Cabinet has cleared production linked incentive scheme for speciality steel

Government has approved the production linked incentive scheme (PLI) for speciality steel, which will run for five years from 2023-24 to 2027-28 with a budgetary outlay of Rs 6,322 crore.

The decision was taken by the Union Cabinet which met on Thursday.

Official sources said that the scheme is expected to bring in investment of approximately Rs 40,000 crore and lead to capacity addition of 25 million tonnes for speciality steel. 

Speciality steel has been chosen as the target segment because out of the production of 102 million tonnes steel in India in 2020-21, only 18 million tonnes value added steel or speciality steel was produced in the country.

Apart from this out of 6.7 million tonnes of imports in 2020-21, approximately 4 million tonnes of import was of specialty steel alone resulting in foreign exchange outgo of around Rs 30,000 crores. 

It is expected that speciality steel production will reach around 42 million tonnes by the end of 2026-27. This will ensure that around 2.5 lakh crores worth of speciality steel will be produced and consumed in the country which would otherwise have been imported, sources said.  

Similarly, the export of specialty steel will become around 5.5 million tonnes as against the current 1.7 million tonnes of specialty steel getting foreign exchange of Rs 33,000 crore, they further added.

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Unilever Gives a Preview of Worsening Inflation Pinch | Sidnaz Blog

Inflation is becoming as much a headache for CEOs of household-staples companies like


UL -0.19%

as for shoppers. Their ability to pass on price increases hinges on where and what they sell.

The U.K.-based maker of Hellman’s mayonnaise and Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream said Thursday that sales increased at a healthy 5% clip in the three months through June, compared with the same period of 2020. Some products that saw demand slump during lockdowns, such as deodorant, have returned to growth now that social restrictions are being lifted in certain countries.

However, Unilever’s shares fell 5% in early London trading because of new profit guidance. Operating margins are expected to be flat in 2021, down from the slight increase that Chief Executive Officer

Alan Jope

was targeting just three months ago.

Inflation is the clear culprit. For Unilever and its main European peer Nestlé, costs of goods sold amount to around half of revenue. Bernstein recently estimated that over the next 12 months these two companies face roughly 14% increases in bills for everything from plastic packaging to food commodities. On a call with analysts, Unilever’s finance director said that costs spiked again in the latest quarter. Soybean oil prices, an important ingredient for the company’s salad dressing, jumped 20% compared with the first quarter.

Predicting who has the best ability to pass on these higher prices to consumers isn’t easy, but investors can look for clues in market-share data, as well as companies’ mix of products and countries.

Unilever, the maker of Dove soap, said costs spiked again in the latest quarter.



Even though consumers have less disposable income on average, it is easier to increase prices in emerging markets than in mature economies. This is because supermarkets in developing countries often have less bargaining power than in Europe and the U.S., where grocers are more consolidated. Unilever’s high exposure to emerging markets, which contribute roughly 60% of group sales, is positive. However, it can only push so far before pinched shoppers trade down to cheaper brands. This is already happening in Indonesia.

The company and its main rivals will have to fight harder in Europe, where price negotiations between consumer-staples companies and supermarkets are notoriously fraught. In certain markets like France, the prices of some goods are in deflation.

This week’s controversy over Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling ice cream in Israeli settlements may not help the task. The move taken by the brand’s independent board could cause problems for Unilever in the U.S., where it has spent years trying to improve its competitive position. Any slip in consumer demand will make it harder to increase prices.

Lastly, the split of luxury and mass-market brands in consumer companies’ portfolios will determine how much they can shield margins. It is easier to raise prices for premium products, such as Unilever’s posh cleaning brand The Laundress, than for mundane brands where shopper loyalty is weaker.

Consumer bosses face a delicate balancing act to get through this year with both their margins and market share still intact.

The U.S. inflation rate reached a 13-year high recently, triggering a debate about whether the country is entering an inflationary period similar to the 1970s. WSJ’s Jon Hilsenrath looks at what consumers can expect next.

Write to Carol Ryan at [email protected]

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Latest News Today – Amarinder Singh, Navjot Sidhu To Break The Chill With


Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Navjot Sidhu will meet tomorrow for tea in a first effort for peace ahead of the cricketer-turned-politician’s inauguration as the Punjab Congress chief. The overture came from Mr Sidhu, who invited the Chief Minister for the programme at the party office. Mr Singh responded with an invite for a tea for all party leaders and MLAs.The tea party will be held at the Punjab Bhawan, after which they will proceed to the party office.

The Chief Minister’s move came after a letter from Mr Sidhu inviting him to the inauguration.

In the letter that pointedly mentioned his appointment by Sonia Gandhi, Mr Sidhu said, “I have no personal agenda, only Pro-People agenda. Thus, as the eldest of our Punjab Congress family, I request you to please come and bless the new team of PCC”.

Later in the afternoon, Raveen Thukral, the Chief Minister’s media advisor tweeted, “Punjab CM has invited all MLAs, MPs and senior party functionaries at Punjab Bhawan for tea at 10 am on Friday. They will all then go to Punjab Congress Bhawan together from there for the installation of the new PPCC team”.

The Chief Minister has already met two members of the new team, images of the meet were also posted along with the tweet.

Mr Sidhu was not part of the delegation that met Mr Singh and the two are likely to meet tomorrow for the first time since the trouble within the party escalated.

Mr Sidhu is yet to extend the public apology the Chief Minister has demanded for his disparaging tweets. But sources said it is likely that there has been some rapprochement between the two.

The cricketer-turned politician was elevated as the Congress president earlier this week after months of infighting that threatened to scuttle the party’s re-election bid in next year’s assembly polls.

The party veterans had also opposed Mr Sidhu — whom they dubbed a “BJP reject” — calling the shots.  

The elevation was seen as a snub to the Chief Minister and party veterans, who were against what they dubbed a “BJP reject” calling the shots. Mr Singh had only given a conditional acceptance to the Central leadership’s solution, but all his riders were ignored.

The feud between Amarinder Singh and Navjot Sidhu has been on since the 2017 state elections. Mr Sidhu, who joined the party after a stint in the BJP, hoped to be made Deputy Chief Minister. But the move was reportedly scuttled by Mr Singh. Mr Sidhu has been on the warpath since, publicly criticising the Chief Minister on and off.

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Western Wildfires Are Hitting the Lumber Market | Sidnaz Blog

Lumber prices finally cooled off. Now come the fires.

Forest fires raging in the West are threatening an important swath of the U.S.’s wood supply, pinching output that has been under pressure since the Covid-19 pandemic touched off homebuying and remodeling booms and sent lumber prices soaring.

Canfor Corp.

CFPZF 3.33%

, one of North America’s largest lumber producers, said that starting Monday it would cut back output at its mills in British Columbia because of hundreds of blazes that have broken out in the Canadian province and challenged its ability to shuttle wood to and from its facilities. The company expects to reduce output at its 10 operating mills there by a total of about 115 million board feet during the quarter.

That is only a sliver of North America’s overall supply. Yet analysts said they expected further curtailments because of fires that are scorching logging forests on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border. In addition, lumber prices have fallen below the cost of sawing boards in the continent’s most expensive place to process timber.

“The wildfires burning in western Canada are significantly impacting the supply chain and our ability to transport product to market,” said

Stephen Mackie,

executive vice president of Canfor’s North American operations.

Traders responded Wednesday by bidding up lumber futures for delivery through January by the daily maximum allowed by exchange rules. September futures rose 7.75% to close at $584 per thousand board feet, a rare up day in the midst of a 66% decline since early May.

Lumber is one of several commodities markets being roiled by extreme weather this summer. The same heat and drought that set the stage for an unusually early and intense fire season in the West have dried up hydroelectric power output and increased air-conditioning demand in the region, which has helped push natural-gas prices to their highest summer levels in seven years.

The lumber market was just getting back into balance when wildfires broke out in British Columbia.


JR Adams/Reuters

A lack of rainfall in South American farming regions has left the Paraná River too shallow for fully loaded boats to pass from Argentina’s interior to Atlantic shipping lanes, contributing to high prices for soybeans and corn. Flooding in Germany last week forced the closure of a plant owned by

Aurubis AG

, a major metal producer and recycler, as copper prices hover around all-time highs.

Aurubis said that one of its two facilities in Stolberg, western Germany, was evacuated without injury to employees. The damage is extensive and production isn’t expected to resume until the fourth quarter at the earliest.

“Delivery to customers and acceptance of incoming deliveries are impossible right now,” the firm said.

The lumber market was just getting back into balance when the fires broke out. North America’s sawmills sent workers home at the start of the lockdown and were unprepared for the building boom that ensued. They have struggled to saw logs fast enough to meet demand from home builders, do-it-yourselfers and restaurants that raced to install outdoor seating areas.

Lumber prices topped out in May at more than four times what is typical for two-by-fours, which helped reduce demand, particularly from the more price-sensitive DIY market that buys wood from retailers such as


Cos. and

Home Depot Inc.

Wood is now piling up at mills.

Mark Wilde, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets, said he expects more mills to announce reduced hours and shifts in the coming weeks

“Pricing windfalls like that of the last 12 months are once in a generation,” he said. “It would be crazy to simply return all that cash to the market by overproducing during a weak market.”

The wood-pricing service Random Lengths said in its midweek report that some Western mills have recently unloaded two-by-fours of spruce, pine and fir for below $400 per thousand board feet. Forest-product executives said that mills operating in British Columbia, where the provincial government metes out log supply, usually need more like $700 to be profitable these days.

Wildfires spawned by extreme heat have devastated parts of British Columbia.


Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press/Associated Press

Such a high break-even price, along with the threat of fires, outbreaks of wood-boring beetles and distance to the Sunbelt’s mushrooming housing markets, has relegated what was once the continent’s top lumber-producing region to the status of swing producer. That means that the region’s mills—much like U.S. shale producers in the oil market—are likely to be the first to curtail production when lumber prices fall and are then counted on to increase output when supplies are stretched and prices rebound.

Canfor and its rivals have responded by shifting their focus to the U.S. South, where a glut of pine trees has pushed log prices to their lowest levels in decades despite strong demand for finished lumber. They have been quick to invest profits from the recent price surge into the South, which has overtaken Canada as the continent’s top lumber-producing region.

Share Your Thoughts

What impact has the availability and price of lumber had on your home-construction or renovation project? Join the conversation below.

Write to Ryan Dezember at [email protected]

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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