Snapshot of news and events for today
||Major world indicators
- The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average lost 1.1 percent, or 99.72 points, to close at 8,742.96.
- The dollar was at ¥98.88, from ¥98.83.
Tuesday's U.S. Markets...
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 137.63, or 1.7 percent, at 7,920.18. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 27.59, or 1.7 percent, to 1,625.72.
- The 10-year Treasury note yield was down to 2.79 percent from 2.86 percent late Monday.
- The dollar was at 98.86 yen from 100.04 yen, while the euro was at $1.3276 from $1.3375 late Monday.
||Yesterday's action and
What happened the prior trading day...
- Corn: Futures closed 5 to 6 cents higher in most contracts, which was near the middle of the day's trading range.
- Soybeans: Futures closed 12 to 15 cents higher, with meal and soyoil seeing strong spillover support.
- Wheat: Futures saw a choppy day of trade, seeing periods of spillover from corn and soybeans, while upside potential was limited by the overall bearish outlook. Chicago wheat closed mostly 1/4 to 1 cent lower, although far-deferred contracts were firmer.
- Cotton: Futures closed just over 100 points lower, which was on session lows.
- Lean Hogs: Lean hog futures extended losses to close 85 cents to $2.15 lower.
- Live Cattle: Live cattle futures and feeder cattle futures closed moderately to sharply lower and 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)
- Bernanke's PR Push Rewrites Fed Script The article explores the shift in the Fed in terms of what they will publicly say under the leadership of Ben Bernanke, with more openness and revelations on policy thoughts and directions than has typically been the case with his two predecessors who were given to shed as little light as possible on the Fed's way to decision making, in part to give themselves more flexibility.
- Banks Ramp Up Foreclosures Increase Poses Threat to Home Prices; Delinquent Borrowers Face New Scrutiny J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all say they have increased foreclosure activity in recent weeks. Some had halted or dramatically slowed their foreclosure efforts, awaiting details from the administration on their plan for helping some home borrowers. But now the pace is picking back up.
- Seeing 'Progress,' President Offers Vision of Lasting Recovery President Obama used a speech Tuesday to warn that while things are going to be difficult in coming weeks and months, he signaled signs of progress in the economy. However, that optimism was not backed up by newly released government data.
Retail-Sales Fall Damps Hope That Rebound Is Near
Sales-Tax Revenue Falls at Fastest Pace in Years
Banks Await Stress-Test Results
- U.S. May Take Stake in GM to Pay Off Loans. The U.S. government is mulling exchanging some of the $13.4 billion in loans it has made to the automaker for a stake in the company. Some say the option is under consideration as the government has had little luck in outside private investors.
- Gasoline Prices Expected to Rise a Bit .The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates gasoline prices will average $2.23 for a gallon of regular grade during this year's driving season, which runs from April to September. That is about 9% higher than the current national average of $2.05 a regular gallon. The EIA sees gasoline consumption rising by 1% this year, compared with a 4.5% decline during last year's driving season.
- Solution to Japan's Jobless Problem: Send City Workers Back to the Land. Work on farms is emerging as an option for Japanese workers who have lost their jobs and are seeking some kind of work. Japan's government has targeted $10 million to send 900 people to job-training programs in farming, forestry and fishing.
- Broadband Stimulus Funds Up for Grabs. Officials from 38 states have told the administration they should have a big say in allocating broadband stimulus money.
- Labor Set to Fight Over Guest Workers. Guest workers are the latest area of debate and contention when it comes to labor issues. The think tank Economic Policy Institute is expected to issue a detailed report on labor/guest worker issues Thursday.
- Cargill's Profit Declines 68% as Demand Weakens. Cargill Inc. posted a 68% decline in its fiscal third-quarter net profit, with fertilizer distribution and processing units now a drag on their performance after providing positive returns in prior quarters. "...the troubles in the global economy and financial system arrived at our company's doorstep," Chairman and Chief Executive Greg Page said in a statement.
- Cupcakes and Cattle Breeding: Teens Turn to Summer Start-Ups . The article offers tips to teens looking for a summer job and finding little available some options to consider in terms of starting their own businesses.
New York Times (registration to site required)
- U.S. Planning to Reveal Data on Health of Top Banks U.S. government officials are signaling they'll release data on the "health" of 19 banks they have assessed relative to their financial status. Part of the reason is that some believe that keeping the data secret could drive investors away from banks that are rumored to be weak.
- Loss of Tax Revenues Is Felt Acutely in West, Report Finds The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government said that tax revenues fell quickly in the West, although the report did not conclude that the recession was worse in the region. The report said that budget stress in states was spreading as consumers continue to curtail spending.
- In Minnesota, a Battle Without End for a Senate Seat The article looks at the latest in the still-unresolved U.S. Senate race in Minnesota.
- Food Safety, One Pistachio at a Time. Editorial. The paper says that the recent urging by the FDA for stores to toss out pistachios until the FDA determined the source of contamination is a sign the agency will be more active on this front.
- Obama: Economy Gaining Traction Weak Retail Data Signal Confidence Remains Off-Kilter While President Obama and the head of the Federal Reserve both expressed optimism about the U.S. economy, data released by the government showed that it remained weak. Now that the major pieces of the economic stimulus package are in place, officials are clearly now trying to restore consumer confidence in the economy.
At Summit of Americas, U.S. May Face World of Blame for Economy
- Russia May Need to Seek International Loans Russia may need to seek money from international markets next year as its revenues continue to decline and the country has spent about one third -- $200 million -- of its vast cash reserves.
- Ahead of Stress Test Results, Banks Balk at More Federal Aid The call by some banks for the government to hold off on any new infusion of aid for the sector has been labeled "grandstanding" by some. The government is poised to unveil its assessment of banks in early May.
||Monitoring the countryside
Omaha World-Herald (Nebraska)
- Omaha ranks high for distillers grain site A New Jersey firm is labeling Omaha as the \ sixth most favorable place on a list of 35 cities for a plant that would use dried distillers grains for "functional foods" -- high-energy sports drinks, cholesterol-lowering yogurts and butter-type spreads and cancer-fighting teas, chocolates and breakfast cereals.
Des Moines Register (Iowa)
|Laughing with, not at
||From political humorists
Jay Leno: "Well, you've been watching the big score over the weekend, huh? Navy 3, pirates 0. Yeah!"
Jay Leno: "Anyway, they asked Captain Phillips what he's going to do now. And he said he's going to Disneyland to wipe out the Pirates of the Caribbean. So I think he's a little wound up."
David Letterman: "How about that story," with the pirates "off the coast of Somalia? Man, I mean, President Obama, this guy is getting it done, you know. He rounded up the Somali pirates" and the "Madoffs all in the same year. Looking pretty good."
Jimmy Fallon: "Well, the wait...is over. The Obamas have chosen a new White House dog." It is "a Portuguese water dog named Bo. Very cute dog. Their first choice" was "a wheaten terrier, but it was arrested for tax evasion."