The Week Ahead: Feb. 4-10, 2013

March 3, 2013 11:00 PM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

House CR | State of rural economy | New OMB director | Employment report

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

The focus in Congress this week will be House Republican leadership moves to move a stopgap spending bill. The Senate will take votes on nominees and consider panel funding. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack appears before the House Ag Committee Tuesday on the state of the rural economy.

House GOP leaders want to hold a vote as early as Wednesday on a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded until the end of the current fiscal year – the current CR expires March 27. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) last week presented his proposal to the House Republican Conference. He explained it would reflect $1.043 trillion in federal spending to which Congress earlier agreed when it passed the Budget Control Act, as well as the first stopgap funding bill for 2013. The proposal is likely to say the total is subject to the cuts forced by the budget sequestration that took effect at the end of the day March 1, taking the total down to about $974 billion. Rogers said that his proposal to lock in the sequester cuts has the strong support of House Republicans. The measure includes two spending proposals which fund Defense and Military Construction/Veterans Affairs. While those plans keep spending levels as they are under sequestration, the bills give the Defense Department greater flexibility in deciding how to spend the money.

In a response to the House's expected CR, Senate Democrats said they will be considering proposals on how to expand that measure to include the other 10 appropriations plans that cover domestic programs. Rather than lock in the automatic cuts forced by sequestration, as the House resolution proposes, the Senate will instead try to bring spending levels down to those previously called for in the Budget Control Act, according to comments made by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).

The House earlier in the week will consider a Senate amendment to a disaster relief bill (HR 307).

Another House bill (HR 668) would require that the annual budget submissions of the president to Congress include an estimate of the cost per taxpayer of the deficit.

Another House bill (HR 338) up for consideration has to do with preventing tobacco smuggling in the US territories.

On the economic front, the first full week of March still has the sequester situation as a backdrop to a lot of what will happen, but there is plenty of economic data for markets to focus on. Tuesday will bring the ISM non-manufacturing index with private-sector jobs data from ADP due on Wednesday along with Factory Orders and the Beige Book recap on the economy. Thursday will see International Trade released along with the weekly update on jobless claims and Productivity and Costs data. But the big focus comes on Friday with the Employment report and wholesale trade figures. Otherwise, markets will watch for any movement on the sequester situation and monitor economic data out of China and Europe in particular.

For agriculture, besides USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack's appearance Tuesday before the House Ag Committee on the state of the rural economy, the focus will be on late-week developments with the monthly Supply/Demand report out along with Crop Production data. Leading up to that, Thursday’s Weekly Export Sales report and update on US ag trade will capture attention. Otherwise, weather and demand will keep markets’ attention, especially since the US dollar index continued to rise of late.

On the White House front, President Obama intends to nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell as his next director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a position open since Jacob Lew left the job in January 2012. OMB has been operating under the direction of Jeffrey Zients, deputy director for management. According to a White House official, the president will make the announcement at 10:15 a.m. ET today, from the East Room of the White House. Burwell previously served as deputy director of OMB from 1998-2001, during the Clinton administration. Burwell also served as deputy chief of staff to the president and chief of staff to the treasury secretary, also during the Clinton administration. Burwell currently serves as the president of the Walmart Foundation. Before taking this position in 2012, Burwell was president of the global development program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she worked for 10 years.

This week's Washington-related agenda: The agenda for congressional committees features hearings on the state of the rural economy, tax provisions of the 2010 health care law, the corporate tax code, and patent litigation.

Monday, March 4
Cabinet meeting: President Obama holds a Cabinet meeting at the White House.
Secretary of State John Kerry talks to Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia. Other officials meet in Istanbul to discuss Syrian rebel support.
Euro zone finance ministers meet.
Federal Reserve: Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen addresses the National Association for Business Economics Policy Conference.
G20 representatives confer in Moscow ahead of the IMF April meetings.
Economic reports: Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve).
USDA reports: Export inspections (AMS) | Dairy Products (NASS).

Tuesday, March 5
State of rural economy:
Committee hearing. House Agriculture Committee hearing will hear testimony from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
China: The National People’s Congress, the Chinese parliament, starts its two-week annual plenary session in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People (to March 14). Leaders are to agree a draft plan on economic and social development for next year.
Tax provisions in health care reform:
Subcommittee hearing. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight hearing on the tax provisions in the Affordable Care Act and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
Reducing deficit: Committee hearing. Senate Budget Committee hearing on reducing the deficit by eliminating wasteful spending in the individual and corporate tax code.
Federal Reserve's interest rate policy: Subcommittee hearing. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade hearing on the near-zero federal funds interest rate, and whether the Federal Reserve's low-interest rate monetary policy is working.
Transportation issues:
Subcommittee hearing. House Transportation Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials hearing will examine freight and passenger rail in the US transportation system.
American energy security and innovation: Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing will examine American energy security and innovation.
Economic reports: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales | ISM Non-Mfg Index
USDA reports:Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin (WAOB)

Wednesday, March 6
SEC: Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) open meeting considers a rule to improve automated systems that can be overwhelmed in big market selloffs.
CFTC budget: Subcommittee hearing. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies holds a Wednesday morning hearing to discuss the budget for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler and CFTC Commissioner Scott O'Malia will testify.
Housing policy: Subcommittee hearing. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises hearing to examine how the government's housing policy failed homeowners and taxpayers, and led to the financial crisis.
Energy reports: Weekly Petroleum Status Report (EIA) | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA).
Economic reports: ADP Employment Report | Factory Orders | Beige Book | Weekly Mortgage Rates (Freddie Mac) | ICI weekly money market mutual fund data Weekly mortgage applications (Labor Dept.) | MBA Purchase Applications
USDA reports: Broiler Hatchery (NASS) | National Dairy Products Sales Report (AMS)


Thursday, March 7
Central banks: The European Central Bank, Bank of England, and Bank of Japan are all expected to hold rates steady, and to discuss their economic situations.
Bank Secrecy Act: Committee hearing. Senate Budget Committee oversight hearing of the Bank Secrecy Act and its anti-money laundering rules. Witnesses scheduled to testify include David Cohen, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry, and Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell.
USDA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG): Subcommittee oversight hearing. House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee will focus on USDA's OIG and will hear testimony from Karen Ellis, assistant inspector general for investigations at USDA; Phyllis Fong, inspector general of the USDA; and Gil Harden, assistant inspector general for audit at USDA.
Patent litigation abuse: Subcommittee hearing. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property Patent hearing on litigation abuse and its impact on American innovation and jobs.
Cyber security: Joint hearing. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a joint hearing with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the cybersecurity partnership between the private sector and the federal government. The committees will examine the development and implementation of the executive order issued by President Obama, and explore the need for comprehensive legislation to strengthen US cybersecurity.
Transportation: Weekly Traffic of Major Railroads (Assn. Of American Railroads) | Grain Transportation Report (AMS).
Energy reports: Weekly US underground natural gas stocks (EIA)
Economic reports: Jobless Claims (Labor Dept.) | International Trade | Productivity and Costs | Consumer Credit
USDA reports: Export Sales (FAS) | Latest US Agricultural Trade Data (ERS)


Friday, March 8
Russia markets closed for Women's Day.
Economic reports: Employment | Wholesale Trade
USDA reports: WASDE (ERS) | Crop Production (NASS) | Cotton Ginnings (NASS) | Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade (FAS) | World Agricultural Production (FAS) | Grains: World Markets and Trade (FAS) | Cotton, Grains, Oilseeds and World Agricultural Production Data (FAS) | Cotton: World Markets and Trade (FAS) | Peanut Prices (NASS) | Latest US Agricultural Trade Data (ERS) | Season Average Price Forecast (ERS) | US Agricultural Trade Data Update ERS | Livestock and Meat Trade Data (ERS)


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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