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Aid to Ukraine | Expired tax incentives | USDA reports | Employment update
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Providing aid to Ukraine, amending the Affordable Care Act (ACA), unemployment insurance legislation, a measure on Medicare physician pay rates, and a Senate Finance panel markup of tax incentive extenders are the focus of Congress this week. Today brings key reports from USDA covering Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks. On the economic report front, the key day is Friday with release of the Employment report.
Senate action: A bill (HR 4302) to extend current Medicare physician pay rates for one year will come before the Senate March 31, Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) said. The vote will occur one day before Medicare physician pay rates are due for a 24 percent cut under Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula. The Senate also plans to consider extending emergency unemployment benefits that expired in December 2013. The Senate has attached the UI language to a House-passed tax bill, which would exempt volunteer fire and emergency services departments from the ACA's employer health insurance mandate. A procedural vote to end debate on the UI compromise bill is set for the evening of March 31.
Russia briefing. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday is to receive an afternoon briefing on Russia.
Tax incentive extenders. The Senate Finance Committee plans to mark up legislation that would revive tax breaks that expired at the end of last year. Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has made reviving the lapsed breaks his priority since taking over the panel’s chairmanship from Max Baucus, who is now ambassador to China. Democrats want to put the tax breaks back into effect for two years. Wyden’s proposal is expected to exclude or refine some of the 55 breaks. A markup of the bill later in the week could offer some debate regarding the most controversial items, such as write-offs for NASCAR racetracks and federal rum rebates. But action on a final deal with the House is unlikely until after the November elections, perhaps in a lame-duck session. Meanwhile, some outside groups are seeking to highlight the intense pressure they say members are facing from more than 1,000 lobbyists. Americans for Tax Fairness and Public Campaign are to release a joint report Monday about a large corporate lobbying campaign regarding "tax extenders."
House action: The House will vote Tuesday on a Senate-passed bill that would authorize aid to Ukraine and additional sanctions on Russian officials for the annexation of Crimea, said an aide to Majority leader Eric Cantor. The legislation (HR 4152) would authorize a $1 billion loan guarantee to Ukraine. It also would permit $150 million in direct assistance beginning in FY 2015. It would allow sanctions against Russians and Ukrainians considered responsible for violence and intimidation as Russia took control of Crimea. The Senate passed the bill March 27 without a provision increasing funding for the International Monetary Fund.
The House Budget Committee plans to mark up a Fiscal 2015 budget resolution and it will be considered on the floor the week of April 7, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said. It will adhere to the limits agreed upon in the two-year budget law signed by President Obama in December. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) Ryan has claimed his budget will achieve balance in a decade without raising taxes. To do that, he is expected to propose big cuts or changes in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, which will garner some stiff Democratic resistance.
Focus of committee hearings: House Budget markup of Fiscal Year 2015 budget resolution; Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on tax havens; Senate Finance and House Ways and Means on the president's FY 2015 trade agenda; House Energy and Commence on auto recalls.
Appropriations witnesses. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan are scheduled to testify this week at House Appropriations subcommittees. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack testifies before the House Ag Committee.
The economic focus for the week will primarily be on Monday and Friday. The Monday focus comes as Fed Chair Janet Yellen will speak, making her first public comments since her post-FOMC meeting press conference. The Friday focus comes in via the key Employment report for March which arrives Friday morning. Of course there will be other economic updates during the week, with Monday also seeing the Chicago PMI report along with the Dallas Fed report. Tuesday has a manufacturing influence, with the PMI and ISM manufacturing indices released along with Construction Spending. Wednesday will see the private-sector ADP jobs data and Factory Orders numbers followed by Thursday releases on International Trade, weekly jobless claims, PMI Services, and the ISM non-manufacturing index. The Russia/Ukraine situation will continue to be a focal point, potentially moving markets here and around the globe. Besides Yellen, Atlanta Fed’s Lockhart and St Louis Fed’s Bullard will speak on Wednesday. But the Friday report on the US jobs situation has potential to trump them all.
For agriculture, the week opens with key data from USDA in the form of the Prospective Plantings and Quarterly Grain Stocks reports. The data will be tone-setters for markets for April. Once the data is out, however, that will quickly start turning the attention to US planting weather ahead and how that could affect what producers signaled they’d intend to plant for the 2014 growing season. Thursday will see the release of the weekly update on exports and international trade, with the sales data continuing to be important relative to China in particular. Weather will also be a watch point in the Plains, with some additional rains in the forecast. The Ukraine situation could also be a factor to watch relative to their spring planting and grain export situation.
Monday, March 31
Health care: ObamaCare/Affordable Care Act deadline for some private insurance sign ups, except for consumers who have begun application process on Healthcare.gov, who will have until mid-April.
Supreme Court releases list of cases it plans to consider.
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen speaks at a community reinvestment conference in Chicago.
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with euro-zone leaders in Brussels through Tuesday.
Climate change: UN International Panel on Climate Change presents its final report for policy makers.
Economic reports: Chicago PMI | Dallas Fed Mfg Survey | Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve)
USDA reports: Export inspections (AMS) | Grain Stocks (NASS) | Rice Stocks (NASS) | Prospective Plantings (NASS) | Egg Products (NASS) | Oil Crops Yearbook (ERS)
Tuesday, April 1
Japan's sales tax rises from 5% to 8%.
Rising gas price pressure: Russian gas exporting monopoly Gazprom is expected to raise the price that Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state energy company, pays. Some 15 percent of Europe’s gas imports come through Ukraine but prices are renegotiated every three months with Moscow.
World Economic Forum holds its Latin American Forum in Panama City for more than 500 leaders. It focuses on economic growth, boosting diversification, increasing productivity, fuel competitiveness, enhancing trade and investing in human capital (to April 3).
Euro-area February unemployment rate is released.
Forum for Agriculture discussions in Brussels. Primary focus on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Panelists: Darci Vetter, deputy under secretary of agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services; John Atkin, chief operating officer of Syngenta; James Elles, chairman of the Transatlantic Policy Network; and Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Credit for new farmers: USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will host a Google+ hangout on access to credit for new farmers and ranchers.
SEC FY 2015 budget: House Appropriations panel on financial services holds hearing on the Security & Exchange Commission's FY15 budget request with Chairwoman Mary Jo White.
Generic drug labeling: House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing to focus on the Food and Drug Administration's proposed changes to generic drug labeling.
Offshore tax strategy: Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs panel on offshore tax strategy.
Economic reports: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales | Motor Vehicles Sales | PMI Mfg Index | ISM Mfg Mfg Index | Construction Spending
Wednesday, April 2
Federal Reserve: Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart speaks on the economic outlook in Miami. St Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard welcoming remarks in St. Louis.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks about the global economy, in Washington.
Oil exports: House Foreign Affairs panel holds a hearing on oil exports.
Energy trade policy: House Foreign Affairs Cmte panel holds hearing on "The Crude Truth: Evaluating US Energy Trade Policy," with Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
Energy Dept. FY 2015 budget: House Appropriations panel holds hearing on Energy Dept’s FY15 budget request, with testimony from agency Sec. Ernest Moniz.
FY 2015 budget: House Appropriations panel hears from Treasury Sec. Jack Lew on FY 2015 budget request.
EPA FY 2015 budget: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testifies at House Energy and Commerce panel on her agency’s FY 2015 budget request.
House FY 2015 budget resolution: House Budget Committee plans to consider its FY 2015 budget resolution.
Bitcoin: House Small Business Committee hearing on the benefits and risks of bitcoin. Witnesses will focus on the digital currency's effect on small businesses.
Dept. of Interior FY 2015 budget: Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development hearing on proposed FY 2015 budget estimates for the Department of the Interior. Witnesses also will discuss the budget for the US Army Corps of Engineers.
FY 2015 budget, USDA marketing and regulatory programs: House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee. Witnesses: Ed Avalos, undersecretary of Agriculture for marketing and regulatory programs; Kevin Shea, administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA; Anne Alonzo, administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA; Larry Mitchell, administrator, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, USDA; Michael Young, Budget Officer, USDA.
Energy reports: Weekly Petroleum Status Report (EIA) | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA).
Economic reports: Weekly Mortgage Rates (Freddie Mac) | ICI weekly money market mutual fund data Weekly mortgage applications (Labor Dept.) | Factory Orders | ADP Employment Report | MBA Purchase Applications
USDA reports: Broiler Hatchery (NASS) | National Dairy Products Sales Report (AMS) | Announcement of Class and Component Prices (AMS)
Thursday, April 3
ECB governing council meets, followed by an interest-rate announcement and news conference.
CFTC hosts public roundtable "to discuss issues concerning end-users and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act."
Energy Dept. FY 2015 budget: House Energy and Commerce panel hears from Energy Sec. Moniz on budget request.
Administration trade agenda: Senate Finance holds hearing on President Obama’s trade agenda. Also, House Ways and Means Committee similar hearing. US Trade Representative Michael Froman is scheduled to testify at both hearings.
FDA FY 2015 budget: Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Subcommittee on FY 2015 budget estimates for the Food and Drug Administration. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is scheduled to testify.
Food safety programs – USDA FY 2015 budget: House Appropriations Ag Subcommittee hearing on FY 2015 budget proposal for food safety programs of USDA.
Transportation FY 2015 budget: House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee will discuss FY 2015 funding for the Department of Transportation. Witnesses from various transportation administrations are scheduled to testify.
Interior Dept. FY 2015 budget: House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the budget proposal for the Department of the Interior. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is scheduled to testify.
Rural economy: House Ag Committee hearing to review the state of the rural economy. Witnesses include USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
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 | ISM Non-Mfg Index |
USDA reports: Export Sales (FAS) | Dairy Products (NASS) | Latest US Agricultural Trade Data (ERS)
Friday, April 4
President Barack Obama meets with Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jemaa at the White House.
Foreign ministers of Russia and former Soviet Republics meet in Moscow.
EPA: Deadline for EPA employees to take up option to retire early, take buyout worth up to $25,000.
FY 2015 budget – USDA rural development. House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. Witnesses: Doug O'Brien, deputy undersecretary of Agriculture for rural development; Lillian Salerno, administrator, Rural Business Cooperative Service, USDA; Tony Hernandez, administrator, Rural Housing Service, USDA; John Padalino, administrator, Rural Utilities Service, USDA; Michael Young, budget officer, USDA.
Economic reports: Employment
USDA reports: Peanut Prices (NASS) | Livestock & Meat International Trade Data (ERS) | US Agricultural Trade Data Update (ERS)
NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.