Snapshot of news and events for today
||Major world indicators
- The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average lost 213.42 points, or 2.4 percent, to 8,711.33.
- The dollar was at 98.14 from 97.99.
Monday's U.S. Markets...
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 289.60, or 3.6 percent, to 7,841.73. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 64.86, or 3.9 percent, to 1,608.21.
- The 10-year Treasury note yield fell to 2.84 percent from 2.95 percent late Friday.
- The dollar was at 97.84 Japanese yen from 99.25, while the euro was at $1.2924, its lowest level since March 13.
||Yesterday's action and
What happened the prior trading day...
- Corn: Futures finished in the middle of the day's trading range, but finished 6 to 9 cents lower.
- Soybeans: Futures opened slightly lower and sharply extended losses into the close to finish 30 to 34 cents lower.
- Wheat: Futures opened lower and extended losses, with futures posting mid- to low-range closes. Chicago wheat closed 18 to 19 cents lower.
- Cotton: Futures finished sharply lower on heavy pressure from outside markets.
- Lean Hogs: Lean hog futures opened lower and extended gains, with most contracts finishing mid-range.
- Live Cattle: Live cattle futures posted sharp losses. All but the April contract finished near session lows.
||Other reports affecting agriculture
||Links to top news reports
with potential U.S. ag impact
Wall Street Journal (subscription to site required for access)
- Food Firms Cook Up Ways to Combat Rare Sales Slump In the last quarter of 2008, consumer spending on food fell by an inflation-adjusted 3.7% from the previous quarter -- its steepest drop in 62 years. But some food companies sensed such a shift was coming. The item details some of the in-home research Campbell's Soup did over the past year to monitor consumer trends and patterns and responses to the economy. And, the firm has shifted some of its marketing efforts as a result of what they've found.
- Tire Imports Spur Dumping Case Steelworkers Union Alleges Rising Chinese Shipments Cost U.S. Jobs. The USW petition, filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission, said China exported nearly 46 million consumer tires with a value of more than $1.7 billion to the U.S., making it the largest source of consumer-tire imports. Imports have nearly tripled in volume in the last five years, while domestic production of consumer tires has fallen by more than 25%.
- Geithner Weighs Bank Repayments Whether the government will let banks repay bailout funds will not just rest on the health of the institutions. Treasury Sec. Geithner indicated the need to consider the overall health of the financial system and the flow of credit in judging whether banks can repay their government investment.
TARP Watchdog Urges Better Oversight
- Obama Tells Cabinet to Trim Spending Admitting that the ordered savings of $100 million won't make much of a dent in the federal budget deficit, President Obama still directed his cabinet officers to find savings and report their results back to him in 90 days. The item also points out some of the administration's budget proposals, like cutting subsidies to farmers, have been opposed and the administration has done little to push them. But Republicans counter the effort is only 0.007% of the U.S. budget.
- Fed's Kohn Says Recovery Possible in '09. The Fed's vice chairman said that he saw signs that an economic recovery could unfold yet this year and could be stronger than expected. Kohn noted that consumer spending appears to have steadied and that low mortgage rates and more-affordable homes could help the beleaguered housing sector.
- China Credit Boom Spurs Concern Officials Weigh More Regulation, Fearing Banks Are Taking On Too Much Risk A dramatic rise in loan activity in China is fostering concerns that the lending may go for naught. Some think that steering more of the money toward consumers and small businesses will give more "bang for the buck."
- Treasury Pressures Chrysler, Fiat in Meetings. The administration continued to press automakers in meetings Monday. Reports also say the government will provide GM with $5 billion in aid and Chrysler $500 million to keep the automakers afloat. They are also setting aside $1.25 billion to account for recalls should the automakers go bankrupt.
New York Times (registration to site required)
- Nonprofit Groups to Push for Exceptions to Lobby Rule Non-profit groups are pushing for exceptions to be made to the administration's stance of no lobbyists being put in key positions in the government. They argue those who have lobbied on things like human rights are not doing so for their own personal gain but a greater good and thus should be allowed to serve.
- Obama Tells His Cabinet to Look for Efficiency While budget analysts have poo-poo'd the Obama request for agency heads to trim $100 million from their budgets over the next 90 days, he noted that it is only a small part of a bigger effort to cut the deficit.
- Obama Doesn't Plan to Reopen Nafta Talks U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said that he thinks most issues that are being raised relative to NAFTA can be addressed without reopening the trade deal as was suggested by candidate Obama during his run to the White House.
||Monitoring the countryside
Wichita Eagle (Kansas)
- Rain helps winter wheat crop Rains and cooler temperatures are helping the state's winter wheat crop in the wake of an early April freeze which potentially damaged some of the crop.
Omaha World-Herald (Nebraska)
Des Moines Register (Iowa)
Denver Post (Colorado)
|Laughing with, not at
||From political humorists
Jay Leno: "And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States is now ready to talk to Cuba. You know what that means? Apparently, we are already interviewing replacements for Texas."
Jay Leno: "Sometimes we Americans, you know." Well, "climate experts say we should tell villagers in developing countries to reduce the amount of cooking smoke they generate to help fix global warming." As "if these people don't hate us enough already. I mean, they live in mud huts, they have thatch roofs," and "their clothes are made of straw. We pull up in a bunch of Humvees and SUVs going, 'Hey, you want to cut the smoke out of here?'"