The Week Ahead: March 20-26, 2017

March 20, 2017 02:46 AM

Health care reform | Supreme Court | Perdue nomination hearing | Farm bill hearings 

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A likely House vote on a bill to replace ObamaCare, hearings on Supreme Court justice nominee Neil Gorsuch, a nomination hearing for USDA nominee Sonny Perdue and more House farm bill hearings are the focus items for this week in Washington.

The House is set to vote on the replacement for ObamaCare on Thursday, likely a signal that House Republican leaders think they have the votes for passage of the plan. The House Rules Committee meets Monday evening to consider the rule for the measure ahead of the planned Thursday vote. Several days of hearings will take place this week on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. And USDA nominee Sonny Perdue’s confirmation takes place Thursday before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Farm bill hearings continue on the House side, with sessions on dairy, nutrition and livestock issues will all be on tap. And the Small Business Committee will take a look at small family farms in a session before their panel.

Other hearings on tap include sessions on railroad technologies, the role of the US military in the world, North Korea ozone standards, antisemitism and more.

In the Senate, Sonny Perdue will have his confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee and panels in the chamber will look at nominations including Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, Alexander Acosta to be the next Labor Secretary and Jay Clayton to serve on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

A lighter week of economic updates is on tap, with information on housing and orders for long-lasting goods the top focal points. The Chicago Fed National Activity Index arrives today with the next round of data Wednesday in the form of the FHFA House Price Index and Existing Home Sales updates. Weekly Jobless Claims and New Home Sales are issued Thursday and the week wraps up with Durable Goods Orders and the PMI Flash reading on Friday. The attention will still stay on how these updates stack up relative to the potential for the Fed to increase short-term interest rates as they signaled at the conclusion of the March 15 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.

There are more events scheduled with Fed speakers than there are economic updates in the week ahead. This will give traders something to focus on with a relatively light economic calendar. And there are some important Fed officials on tap, including Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen on Thursday who will give the opening keynote remarks at a Federal Reserve System Community Development Research Conference in Washington. Her remarks relative to the US economy may not change much relative to her post-meeting press conference, but still will be monitored closely. Other Fed speakers include two appearances today by Chicago Fed's Evans (2017 voter) and remarks Tuesday by KC Fed's George (2019 voter), Cleveland Fed's Mester (2018 voter) and Boston Fed's Rosengren (2019 voter). Besides Yellen on Thursday, the lone dissenter at the FOMC Minneapolis Fed's Kashkari (2017 voter) speaks along with Dallas Fed's Kaplan (2017 voter). The week closes out with Friday remarks from Evans, St Louis Fed's Bullard (2019 voter) and San Francisco's Williams (2018 voter). Traders will want to hear how these officials view the economy and monetary policy moves ahead and how – or whether — their views differ from Fed Chairwoman Yellen – most of them will not likely vary much.

Big South American production potential remains the overarching focus for corn and soybean markets. However, corn traders will keep their ears peeled for any additional demand news as foreign buyers have been stepping up their purchases of US corn. That should lead to another solid number in the Weekly Export Sales report Thursday. Plus, traders will still monitor the level of corn, soybeans and wheat inspected for export in today’s update. Some states will continue to issue winter wheat condition updates and that could have some influence on wheat futures. But the bigger attention point there will be on weather ahead as the week closed out with precipitation events on tap for Plains HRW wheat areas. Other data on tap include Cold Storage figures on Wednesday which will be monitored for signals on meat demand. The week closes out with updated food price forecasts from USDA Friday morning along with the monthly Cattle on Feed data in the afternoon.

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