Political Picks and Possibilities

December 15, 2008 06:00 PM

Snapshot of news and events for today

Quick links

* Financial markets

* Ag futures

* USDA reports this week

* NWS forecast

* Major media

* Ag media

* Political humorists

Financial markets Major world indicators

Japanese trading...

  • The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 96.64 points, or 1.1 percent, to 8,568.02. 

  • The dollar stood at 90.32 yen from 90.46 late Monday.

Monday's U.S. Markets...

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 65.15, or 0.75 percent, to 8,564.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 32.38, or 2.10 percent, to 1,508.34.
  • The 2-year Treasury note edged up 1/32 to yield 0.754 percent. The benchmark 10-year note climbed 10/32 to yield 2.540 percent. The 30-year bond rose 1-7/32 to yield 2.993 percent.

  • The dollar traded at 90.74 yen from 91.04 yen on Friday,  while the euro bought $1.3708, up from $1.3374 late Friday.

Ag futures Yesterday's action and
overnight indicators

What happened yesterday...

  • Corn: Futures gapped higher on the open, but quickly filled the gap and finished just off session lows.
  • Soybeans: Futures gapped higher on the open, but quickly filled in the gap and sank below unchanged around midday. Futures closed 3 to 8 cents lower, with nearbys leading losses.

  • Wheat: Futures opened higher and trimmed gains, finishing mostly around 6 cents higher in Chicago and Kansas City.
  • Cotton: Futures moved off session highs as crude oil weakened, but still remained in positive territory.
  • Lean Hogs: Lean hog futures opened firmer and extended gains on spillover from strength in the cattle pit, closing 30 to 75 cents higher.
  • Live Cattle: Live cattle futures strengthened into the close to finish 82 cents to $1.20 higher.

Scheduled USDA Reports & Summaries This Week

Agricultural Marketing Service = (A)
Census Bureau = (CB)
Economic Research Service = (E)

Farm Service Agency (FSA)

Foreign Ag Service = (F)

National Agricultural Statistics Service = (N)

World Agricultural Outlook Board = (W)






Dec. 15

Grain Inspections (A)
Feed Outlook (E)

Wheat Outlook(E)
Apple Juice: World Markets and Trade (F)
Apples: World Markets and Trade (F)
Pears: World Markets and Trade (F)
Potatoes and Products: World Markets and Trade (F)
Table Grapes: World Markets and Trade (F)
Potato Stocks


Weather - Crop Summary (N)
Meat Price Spreads (E)
Vegetables and Melons Outlook (E)


Broiler Hatchery (N)


U.S. Export Sales (F)
Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook (E)
Milk Production (N)
National Hop Report (N)


Dairy Products Prices (N)
Cattle on Feed (N)

Overview Other reports affecting agriculture
Major media Links to top news reports
with potential U.S. ag impact

Wall Street Journal (subscription to site required for access)

  • Chinese Factories, Led by Steel, Slow to a Crawl Chinese crude steel output fell 12.4% from a year earlier, to 35.2 million metric tons. Finished steel was down 11% in November. China's overall industrial production in November rose only 5.4% from a year earlier, compared with an 8.2% gain in October. The latest figure marks the lowest growth rate for a month excluding Chinese New Year since China started keeping such statistics in 1994.
  • Caroline Kennedy Seeks New York Senate Seat JFK's daughter Caroline Kennedy has contacted New York's governor to say she was interested in the Senate seat that Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) will give up to become Secretary of State. But some decry her lack of experience relative to national politics. She was an early backer of President-elect Obama, comparing him to her father.
  • Process to Oust Governor Starts Illinois Lawmakers Set to Form Committee to Explore Impeaching Blagojevich The state House of Representatives unanimously authorized a bipartisan committee to explore the possibility of ousting the two-term Democratic governor, by a vote of 113 to zero. However, they did not act on a request by Republicans to order a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Obama.
    Related item:
    Obama Team Delays Releasing Findings

  • Duncan Is Obama's Choice for Education Secretary Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan is said to be the pick of President-elect Obama to become the next U.S. Education Secretary.
  • Obama Picks Team for EPA and Energy. Obama formally announced the team that was signaled last week by his transition team for EPA and the Dept. of Energy. The article also says that Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) will be tapped to be Interior Secretary.
  • Treasury Pressured to Help Homeowners. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Monday that the administration will face difficulties in Congress if it requests access to the second installment of the $700 billion rescue plan unless it does more to help homeowners.
  • Toyota Delays Mississippi Prius Factory Amid Slump. In a sign that not only U.S. automakers are hurting, Toyota announced it is indefinitely delaying a the opening of a plant in Mississippi that was slated to start making its Prius hybrid sedan in May 2010. The item notes Honda has also cut its car output by 175,000 units, down 12% from plans.
  • Home Buyers Turn to USDA for Mortgages Agency Program Backs Loans to Aid Rural Development; No Money Down -- Even Now The department insured $7 billion in loans during the 2008 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, up from $3.6 billion the previous year. In October and November, the agency has already insured some $1.7 billion in loans.

New York Times (registration to site required)

  • Big Oil Projects Put in Jeopardy by Fall in Prices Current low oil prices have benefited consumers with lower gasoline prices, but they have also acted to slash activities on exploration or other energy supply projects and the article warns that could send oil prices moving back higher as the lack of new supply becomes a reality.
  • Caroline Kennedy Is Seeking Seat Held by Clinton The daughter of President John F. Kennedy wants to come to meet with New York's governor about the Senate seat Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) will exit to become Secretary of State. The state's governor, however, insisted yesterday he has not made a decision on who to appoint to the seat.
    Related item:
    Résumé Long on Politics, but Short on Public Office
  • Chicago Schools Chief Is Obama's Education Pick. The head of the nation's third largest school system is said to be the choice to head up the Education Dept. in the Obama administration. The item labels him as a "compromise choice in the debate that has divided Democrats in recent months over the proper course for public-school policy after the Bush years."
  • Farm's Closing Time Is Dinner Time for Pheasants. The state will close the last pheasant farm and the birds will be donated to food pantries.
  • OPEC Looks to Halt Falling Oil Prices . Many analysts expect the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which accounts for about 40 percent of the world's oil, to cut its production by about 1.5 million barrels a day, or 5 percent.

Washington Post

Ag media Monitoring the countryside

Denver Post (Colorado)

Laughing with, not at From political humorists

David Letterman: "Golden Globe nominations out today,” and "Sarah Palin was nominated for” one. Her category is "Outstanding Comedy Performance in a Presidential Campaign.”

Conan O'Brien: "Yesterday President-elect Barack Obama called on Illinois Governor Blagojevich to resign. … And after…hearing this, Blagojevich said, ‘If he wants to call and talk to me, it's $4.99 a minute.'”

Jimmy Kimmel: "Barack Obama had another press conference today. Among other things, he talked about the economy.” He "says job prospects are worse than they have been in 26 years. This Obama is turning out to be a real bummer with these speeches, ism't he?”

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