Snapshot of news and events for today
||Major world indicators
- The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 237.84 points, or 2.7 percent, to 8,595.01.
- The dollar was at 99.65 yen from 100.66 yen.
Tuesday's U.S. Markets...
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 186.29, or 2.3 percent, to 7,789.56. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 45.10 points, or 2.8 percent, to 1,561.61, dipping into the red for the year to date.
- The 10-year Treasury note yield fell to 2.90 percent from 2.93 percent late Monday.
- The dollar was at was at 100.37 yen from 101.07 yen, while the euro was at $1.3266 from $1.3407 late Monday.
||Yesterday's action and
What happened the prior trading day...
- Corn: Futures opened slightly lower and extended losses in late trade to finish around 9 cents lower.
- Soybeans: Futures finished mostly 4 to 6 cents lower, which was near session lows.
- Wheat: Futures extended losses into the close to finish sharply lower in most contracts. Chicago wheat closed 17 to 18 cents lower, Kansas City wheat 12 to 14 cents lower and Minneapolis wheat mostly 10 to 13 cents lower.
- Cotton: Futures also saw a choppy day of trade, closing 5 to 21 points higher.
- Lean Hogs: Lean hog futures rebounded from a lower start to finish higher in all but the April contract, which closed 55 cents lower.
- Live Cattle: Live cattle futures saw a choppy day of trade, with the market weighing beef market improvement against weaker equity markets.
||Other reports affecting agriculture
||Links to top news reports
with potential U.S. ag impact
Wall Street Journal (subscription to site required for access)
- Glut of Goods Is Easing Inventory Cuts at Big Companies Augur Well for Output Some companies signaled Tuesday they have reduced their inventories which could spur a round of activity to rebuild those stocks. Some also signal that consumer spending appears to be stabilizing. However some counter any productivity increase relative to lower inventories could be a "false dawn" for the economy.
- U.S. to Offer Aid to Life Insurers Firms Face Capital Crunch; How Much They Will Get From TARP Remains Unclear The item says the decision marks a third industry that the government is seeking to aid, noting that insurer AIG's woes were caused by bad bets in the derivatives market, not their life insurance operations. Plus it notes many Americans have funds with life insurance companies and keeping them afloat is an important signal.
Plan Gets Mixed Review
The Obama Effect: Hunting for Winners, Losers
Banks Risk Capitol Punishment
- As Manufacturers Buckle, Winners Emerge From Havoc The item looks at the success that U.S. furniture maker Craftmaster is having despite the downturn which has taken out some of its rivals. The company has hired some 75 workers the past year and stands ready to swoop in when other companies fail.
- Shippers Taking It Slow in Bad Times As Volume Drops, Moeller-Maersk Scales Back on Fuel, Napkins and Canal Passages. The shipping giant is taking several steps to improve its financial footing, including slowing ships to cut fuel costs, ending some routes and trying to get more efficient vessels. While not in financial danger, officials say its container volume fell nearly 13% last month.
New York Times (registration to site required)
- Gates's Cuts to an Array of Weapons Bring a Fight The cutbacks proposed by Defense Secretary Gates are sure to bring a battle from the defense industry, specifically products like the F-22 fighter. Many suppliers, however, are still not yet signaling which areas they'll fight the most.
Mr. Gates's Budget Editorial
- Oil Giants Loath to Follow Obama's Green Lead. Royal Dutch Shell said last month that it would freeze its research and investments in wind, solar and hydrogen power, and focus its alternative energy efforts on biofuels. The company had already sold much of its solar business and pulled out of a project last year to build the largest offshore wind farm, near London.
- Consumer Borrowing Declined in February Consumer borrowing dropped at an annual rate of $7.48 billion in February from January, according to the Federal Reserve, a 3.5 percent annual rate of decline. Borrowing on credit and charge cards fell at an annual rate of $7.8 billion, or 9.7 percent -- the sharpest drop in dollar terms since federal records began in 1968, and the steepest percentage fall since 1978.
- Democrat Extends Lead in Minnesota Senate Race The vote count in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race is seen tilting more toward challenger Al Franken as absentee ballots are counted. But the attorneys for former Sen. Norm Coleman (R) say they haven't exhausted their court options yet, keeping the election results from becoming final.
- Bids Pour In for State Construction Jobs More Bang for the Stimulus Buck as Firms Clamber for Contracts States in the area report that more contractors are submitting bids for state work and are effectively giving states a cushion to work with since they are aggressively bidding to keep their workers working. Some of those getting into the government contracting arena have been previously focused on private-sector construction, but the downturn there has then eying government-related work.
- GM, Chrysler Miss Benchmark for $25 Billion Loan Program Until GM and Chrysler can be considered financially viable, their access to the loan program for the auto industry will be denied. GM has applied for $10.3 billion to fund projects such as the Chevrolet Volt, its plug-in electric car. Chrysler is seeking about $8 billion to build hybrids and other battery-powered vehicles.
- Wishing and Hoping and Networking Young People Who Want to Work for Obama Wait for a Call Many of the young campaign workers on the Obama campaign are now pining for positions in the administration and are enduring what seems like a long wait to see if their dreams are realized.
Uncle Sam Failing to Capitalize on Motivated Student Interns
||Monitoring the countryside
Wichita Eagle (Kansas)
- Chill likely damaged wheat But it's too early to tell how much -- and a cool spring could help crops recover some, says an extension agent.
Des Moines Register (Iowa)
- Proposed ag subsidy cuts dropped With two key proposals by the Obama administration for cutting farm subsidies to pay for increased nutrition spending gone, the search is on for other ways to find dollars to pay for expanding government nutrition programs.
|Laughing with, not at
||From political humorists
Jay Leno: "Hey, before we get started tonight, I want to remind any potential cabinet members you have until April 15th to not pay your taxes, okay?"
Jay Leno: "There was a big rally on Wall Street yesterday after Citigroup reported a profit for the first two months of the year. That just goes to show you what determination, hard work, and $45 billion of our bailout dollars can do."