Snapshot of news and events for today
||Major world indicators
- The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 177.87 points, 2.4 percent, to 7,198.25.
- The dollar was at 95.87 yen from 97.31 yen..
Wednesday's U.S. Markets...
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.91, or 0.1 percent, to 6,930.40 -- its third advance in four sessions. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 13.36, or 1 percent, to 1,371.64.
- The 10-year Treasury note yield fell to 2.91 percent from 3 percent late Tuesday.
- The dollar was at 97.19 yen, down from 98.72 yen, while the euro was at $1.2848, up from $1.2675 late Tuesday.
||Yesterday's action and
What happened the prior trading day...
- Corn: Futures closed 10 to 11 cents lower, which was on or near session lows.
- Soybeans: Futures closed 14 to 17 cents lower, finishing near session lows.
- Wheat: Futures at all three exchanges closed mostly around 20 cents lower, which was near session lows.
- Cotton: Futures closed steady to just above unchanged, which was near session lows.
- Lean Hogs: Lean hog futures saw another choppy day of trade, favoring a firmer tone on the close.
- Live Cattle:Live and feeder cattle futures closed slightly lower and in the lower end of today's range.
||Other reports affecting agriculture
||Links to top news reports
with potential U.S. ag impact
Wall Street Journal (subscription to site required for access)
- The Next Big Bailout Decision: Insurers About a dozen life insurance companies have applications pending for aid from the Targeted Asset Relief Program (TARP) as losses have weakened their capital position. Their health is key as they are a major holder of U.S. corporate bonds, and if they back away from that role, it could hamper the economy's ability to recover.
- Obama, Geithner Get Low Grades From Economists In sharp contrast to his ratings with the general public, a majority of 49 economists polled by the WSJ said they were dissatisfied with the administration's economic policies and gave Obama a grade of 59 out of 100 on average; 42% of respondents rated Mr. Obama below 60.
Geithner Calls for Global Stimulus Efforts, Bigger IMF War Chest
Preventing the Next Fire While This One Blazes
Freddie Puts Restrictions on Refinances
Freddie Reports $23.9 Billion Loss
- Obama Outlines Plan to Curb Earmarks Obama's plan on earmarks would force any earmark aimed at a private company to be subject to competitive bidding. Earmarks would have to be posted in advance on lawmaker Web sites and publicly aired in hearings before being inserted into spending bills.
- GOP Governors Face Fights on Stimulus. Some Republican governors who said they wouldn't accept all of the stimulus dollars from the federal government are running into opposition, including from some in their own party.
- China Trade Takes Hit as Exports Drop. China's merchandise exports in February plunged 25.7% from a year earlier, the nation's customs agency said, one of the biggest drops on record. The resulting trade surplus posted by China was the smallest in three years.
- Rising Food Prices Hit Eastern Europe. Food prices are on the rise in Eastern Europe, although some say the increases haven't reached a crisis point yet.
New York Times (registration to site required)
- Obama Signs Spending Bill but Criticizes Earmarks President Obama Wednesday signed the omnibus spending bill into law in a non-public signing and just hours after criticizing earmarks which the bill became noted for. Though many said the proposals by the administration covering earmarks in the future fell far short of what should have been done.
Obama Says He Can Ignore Some Parts of Spending Bill
- As Cities Go From Two Papers to One, Talk of Zero While many predict a quick demise the concept of a city having two major newspapers, some are openly wondering which will be the first major U.S. city to be without a single newspaper as the industry struggles.
- Our Pigs, Our Food, Our Health. Op-ed item by Nicholas Kristof. The writer examines what some see as a link between antibiotic use in hog production and the presence of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). He centers his piece on the work by a now-deceased physician in Indiana.
- China Plans to Challenge U.S. Ban on Its Poultry. China said it will file a complaint at the WTO over U.S. rules on poultry imports that they say has kept Chinese poultry out of the U.S. market unfairly.
- Ex-New York Health Commissioner Is FDA Pick. The report says Margaret Hamburg is the Obama administration's pick to head up the Food and Drug Administration. Hamburg was formerly a New York City health commissioner. The report also says Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the health commissioner of Baltimore, will be the deputy at FDA.
Bipartisan Call for Food Safety Fixes
- Treasury Seeks Billions More to Aid Ailing Nations Geithner Pledges Fresh Help for IMF, Will Ask Europe to Boost Stimulus Treasury Sec. Geithner called for more funds from the U.S. for the IMF and urged European countries to do more to bolster the global economy, including spending more on stimulus efforts. But that isn't being met with a lot of enthusiasm in Europe as they are wary of racking up large amounts of debt to create jobs, etc.
- Obama Signs Spending Bill, Vowing to Battle Earmarks President Obama outlined his views for how to reduce the level of earmarks in spending legislation, but did sign the omnibus spending bill that many criticized for being loaded with such earmarks.
Divvying Up the Pork
- FDA Pick Was NYC Health Chief Physician's Chief Deputy Would Be Baltimore Commissioner The item looks at the two likely picks for the top and number two posts at the Food and Drug Administration.
- SEC Calls For More Funds To Avert Cuts In Operations. The head of the SEC said that Congress needs to appropriate more money for the agency or it will have to cut some of its operations back.
||Monitoring the countryside
Fargo Forum (North Dakota)
Omaha World-Herald (Nebraska)
- U.P. sidetracks 450 more workers The railroad furloughed another 450 workers, but company officials indicated the railroad sees signs that could bring an uptick in rail activity later this year, including ethanol production; the grain harvest; at least some improvement in auto shipments; and raw materials needed for highway and other building projects authorized because of the federal stimulus package.
Des Moines Register (Iowa)
- Obama backs corn ethanol, but urges biofuels variety President Obama told regional reporters at the White House that he will likely be the one to make final decision on whether to boost the percentage of ethanol in the nation's gasoline supply as has been sought by many in the ethanol industry and his own ag secretary.
- More corn to be used for ethanol, USDA says. The amount of corn to be used for ethanol production was revised upward by USDA in the monthly Supply/Demand data issued Wednesday.
|Laughing with, not at
||From political humorists
Jay Leno: "Here's some exciting news. The Obama family” is "finally getting their dog. … They say they're getting a Portuguese water dog. And today, Rush Limbaugh said he hopes the dog fails.”
Jay Leno: "President Obama got some good news today. Listen to this. It seems so many of his cabinet appointees have been forced to pay their back taxes, he now gets a finder's fee from the IRS.”
Jay Leno: "Hey, I want to wish former First Lady Barbara Bush well. She's recovering in the hospital after heart surgery,” while "the rest of us, of course, are trying to recover from her son's presidency.”
Jay Leno: "Well, here's a story I mentioned last night. How scary is this? A previously unknown asteroid narrowly missed hitting the Earth this week. They said that if it hit, it would have been the worst disaster since the invention of the adjustable rate mortgage.”
Jay Leno: "And according to ‘The National Enquirer,' John Edwards has now admitted to his wife that he did father a love child with his mistress.” But "is it really a love child? I mean, isn't it more like a ‘hurry up before my wife gets home' child?”
Jay Leno: "And some sad news. I mentioned this the other night. Socks, the White House cat -- remember during the Clinton Presidency, remember socks the cat?” Well, Socks has "passed away at the age of 19. Actually, they had to have him put to sleep. But they did it very humanely. What they did was they had Al Gore talk to the cat about global warming.”