Snapshot of news and events for today
||Major world indicators
- The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 31.05 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,054.98 -- its lowest close since Oct. 6, 1982.
- The dollar was at 98.38 yen from 98.90 yen.
Monday's U.S. Markets...
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 79.89, or 1.2 percent, to 6,547.05. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 25.21, or 2 percent, to 1,268.64.
- The 10-year Treasury note yield slipped to 2.88 percent from 2.89 percent late Friday.
- The dollar was at 98.85 yen, up from 98.27 yen Friday, while the euro was at $1.2607, down from $1.2639.
||Yesterday's action and
What happened the prior trading day...
- Corn: Futures closed with slight gains for the day, but finished off session highs.
- Soybeans: Futures favored a firmer tone through the day, but saw late-session profit-taking to result in a mixed close -- finishing 2 cents higher to 3 cents lower.
- Wheat: Futures saw a choppy day of trade, with Chicago wheat finishing mostly 3 cents lower after a firmer start.
- Cotton: Futures closed with slight losses to finish on or near session lows.
- Lean Hogs: Lean hog futures saw two-sided trade, but ended 7 to 60 cents lower.
- Live Cattle: Live cattle futures maintained a firm tone throughout the session. Feeder cattle also closed slightly higher.
||Other reports affecting agriculture
||Links to top news reports
with potential U.S. ag impact
Wall Street Journal (subscription to site required for access)
- Fight on Bill Augurs Woes for Democrats The battle over the omnibus spending measure to cover the remainder of fiscal 2009 is being taken by some as a sign that Democrats may find it less than easy to move their agenda ahead. The bill was expected to easily pass but has been mired in challenges over earmark spending.
- Some Central Bankers See Turning Point. The head of the European Central Bank says that with the economic stimulus efforts undertaken by several countries, lower interest rates and lower energy prices, the global economy may be close to a point of turning higher.
- Labor Bill Faces Threat in Senate The "card-check" legislation is losing backing of some prior supporters, or at least some of those who have backed the idea before are wavering in their support this time. This is raising the prospect that while the House may easily pass the bill, it may get stalled in the Senate.
- Treasury Plans Small-Business Aid . Geithner said Monday that the Obama administration will launch a plan next week that will provide financing, liquidity and guarantees to open up small-business lending, which is seen as a crucial element of economic recovery.
Ten Questions for Those Fixing the Financial Mess
- Obama Is Free Trade's Best Hope The item says that Obama may be able to use his populist credentials to help stave off protectionist sentiments on trade. They call on him to send strong signals to that effect at the upcoming G20 summit in early April.
- McDonald's Same-Store Sales Rise, Warns on First-Quarter Results. The Fast food chain said its same-store sales rose, a sign that consumers are still opting to eat out but appear to be heading to lower-cost fast-food restaurants to do so.
McDonald's Seeks Way to Keep Sizzling
New York Times (registration to site required)
- Obama's Budget Faces Test Among Party Barons Lawmakers from Obama's party are already signaling areas of the budget plan submitted by the administration that they'll seek to change, including a provision to limit tax deductions by wealthy taxpayers, a move some believe would limit charitable giving. Meanwhile, others say the plan doesn't go far enough to trim the deficit.
- China's Leaders See a Calendar Full of Trouble Chinese leaders are looking to the future with some trepidation as this year will bring the anniversary of several events in China's past that could present challenges for them again -- the Tiananmen Square protests, the failed uprising in Mongolia and more.
- Obama Puts His Own Spin on Mix of Science With Politics. President Obama is laying out his plans on how his administration will use science in its decision-making process. In a memorandum, Obama declared agencies will be expected to pick science advisers based on expertise, not political ideology.
- Wondering if Crude Could Fall Even More. Some are already raising the prospect that the economic downturn could also push oil prices down further, with some predicting prices around $20 per barrel. Others see another downturn in prices, but a pickup as the global economy recovers.
- U.S. to Toughen Its Stance On Trade New Policy Reflects Growing Dissatisfaction With Global Markets Ron Kirk, nominated to be the next U.S. Trade Representative, told lawmakers that he's not coming into the job with "deal fever," but signaled he's reviewing agreements already signed with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, saying the Korean trade deal is "unfair" as it is currently written and the U.S. could "walk away" from the deal.
Kirk on Course for Trade Post
- Democrats Stung by Dissenters Unity on Agenda Eludes Party Leaders Democratic leaders in Congress are surprised by the resistance they've encountered within their own party to their agenda. Support expressed for the broad agenda has deteriorated when the details are being determined.
- Detox for Troubled Assets Plan Is Critical to Revive the Financial System, FDIC Chair Says The head of the FDIC says that it may require more than the $700 billion currently allocated to address the toxic asset situation, but taxpayers may realize a profit from the effort if it is handled properly.
||Monitoring the countryside
Wichita Eagle (Kansas)
- USDA chief backs ethanol boost USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of the National Farmers Union he supports boosting the ethanol blend percentage to 15%, and says EPA could increase it to 12% or 13% almost immediately.
Des Moines Register (Iowa)
|Laughing with, not at
||From political humorists
Jay Leno: "Hey, quite, quite a scare in Washington, DC, today. You may have heard about this. Police were called to the White House. Apparently, President Obama was in a meeting with some potential cabinet nominees. Someone noticed a suspicious looking document on the table no one had ever seen before. Turns out it was just a tax form,” but it "gave them quite a fright.”
Jay Leno: "I love this story. The President's latest nominee, this one for US trade representative, a man named Ron Kirk, who owes the government $10,000 in back taxes, has agreed to pay his taxes. That's what the paper said today. He's agreed to pay them. When was there a choice?”
Jay Leno: "And Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced he plans to go after tax evaders after failing to pay his own taxes.” It is all part "of the government's ‘Operation Do As I Say, Not As I Do.'”
Jay Leno: "Rush Limbaugh has challenged President Obama to a debate. A White House spokesman said the President has bigger things to worry about. I'm thinking, ‘Really? Bigger than Rush Limbaugh?' Have you…seen Rush lately?”
Jay Leno: "And according to a top Russian scholar, the US economy will collapse next year, which comes as a huge shock to most people. I think we thought it was going to collapse this year,” so "we've got another year to party. Yeah!”
Jay Leno: "And Bernard Madoff, the man who operated the Ponzi scheme that screwed $50 billion out of people” is "now saying he should be allowed to keep $62 million and his $7 million penthouse. Yeah. His lawyers are arguing he needs that money to live out the rest of his life. You know, I've got a solution for that, okay? It's called the death penalty.”