Hopes for 'Quick' New Pandemic/Stimulus Aid Plunging, Though Talks Continue

Posted on 10/15/2020 8:13 AM

Trump talks ethanol, farmer aid in trip to Iowa | Another U.S. soybean sale to China


In Today’s Updates


Market Focus:
* Jobless claims rose 898,000 last week to the highest level since the end of August
* Acceleration in Covid cases in Europe and plunging odds for Covid aid
* IMF joins Powell and Lagarde urging governments to keep spending
* Morgan Stanley tops analysts' revenue estimates by $1 billion
* Fed’s Clarida says economic recovery has ‘long way to go’
* China’s recovery from pandemic makes it one of few economies to grow in 2020

* Malaysian company signals U.S. Customs may lift ban on imports of palm oil
* Argentine gov't orders Federation of Oilseeds Workers back to work, halting strike
* Warmest September ever on record
* Pullback in NOPA crush expected for September

* Exporter association raises Brazilian soybean and corn export forecasts for Oct. l

* Strategie Grains adds 2 MMT to its 2020-21 forecast for the EU


Policy Focus:
* Trump goes to Iowa and notes what he's done for ethanol and aid to farmers
* Ernst brings up WOTUS rule, RFS waivers with Supreme Court nominee Barrett
* FSA payouts of 2019 ARC/PLC underway as 2021 signup opens
* Stimulus package a post-election, possibly 2021 topic


U.S./China update:
* China raised $6 billion with its latest international bond sale
* Mnuchin says China needs to provide more on Covid
* Mnuchin says more needs to be done on China trade
* China inflation data provides mixed signals; slowing in rise in pork prices one factor
* USDA daily export sales of 261,000 metric tons of soybeans to China 2020-21
* Analyst and advisor Richard Crow sizes up China's corn import situation

U.S. food & beverage industry update:
* Reasons behind some food shortages during pandemic can be found in a can of corn
* JBS SA parent to pay $280 million to settle foreign bribery case

Update on re-opening America... and around the world:
* Resuming international travel
* Canada’s borders closed as long as coronavirus cases remain elevated in U.S.
* United reported quarterly loss of $1.8 billion
* Sen. Warren criticizes Disney for laying off thousands of workers, buying back shares
* College enrollment slid this fall, with first-year populations down 16%

Coronavirus update:
* Europe grapples with renewed restrictions as cases climb
* Barron Trump tested positive for Covid-19; now negative
* 70% of those surveyed expressed willingness to get vaccinated
* Children in day-care programs present virtually no risk of transmitting Covid to adults


Politics & Elections:
* Trump and Biden will appear at dueling town halls tonight
* Trump will continue his march through toss-up states today and throughout weekend
* Former President Obama to headline several campaign events in coming weeks
* Twitter and Facebook in row by blocking links to a NY Post article on Hunter Biden
* Perspective on the Trump vote
* Biden raised a record $383 million last month
* Poll: Biden has 11-point lead over Trump

Other Items of Note:
* Supreme Court nominee: the next steps
* CFTC seen adopting new rules position limits




Equities today: Global stock markets were mostly down overnight. U.S. stock indexes are signaling a solidly lower opening today. Reports the U.S. Congress is nowhere close to a new major stimulus package has dampened trader and investor sentiment, along with renewed Covid-related shutdowns in parts of Europe. Overnight the MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 1.2% while Japan's Topix index closed 0.7% lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng retreated 2.1% by the close of trading.

     Morgan Stanley tops analysts' revenue estimates by $1 billion on stronger-than-expected trading.


     U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow declined 165.81 points, 0.58%, at 28,514.00. The Nasdaq fell 95.17 points, 0.80%, at 11,768.73. The S&P 500 lost 23.26 points, 0.66%, at 3,488.67.


On tap today:


     • U.S. jobless claims, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, are expected to fall to 830,000 in the week ended Oct. 10 from 840,000 a week earlier. Update: Jobless claims rose 898,000 last week to the highest level since the end of August.
     • New York Fed's Empire State survey for October, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to fall to 12.3 from 17.0 a month earlier.
     • Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing survey for October, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to fall to 14.0 from 15.0 a month earlier.
     • U.S. import prices for September, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, are expected to rise 0.3% from a month earlier.
     • European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde speaks on the economy during IMF/World Bank meetings at 12 p.m. ET.
    • Federal Reserve: Dallas’s Robert Kaplan speaks at a small-business forum at 11 a.m. ET, Vice Chairman Randal Quarles speaks on the Covid-19 response at 11 a.m. ET, St. Louis’s James Bullard speaks at 11:10 a.m. ET, San Francisco’s Mary Daly speaks to the WSJ at 12 p.m. ET, and Minneapolis's Neel Kashkari speaks on the economy at 5 p.m. ET.


Fed’s Clarida says economic recovery has ‘long way to go’. Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida said the U.S. economy faces a long and uncertain road to regaining its pre-pandemic strength despite a faster-than-expected initial rebound from the wreckage of the coronavirus pandemic. “While economic recovery since the spring collapse has been robust, let us not forget that full economic recovery from the Covid-19 recession has a long way to go,” Clarida said in the text of remarks delivered yesterday at an online event organized by the Institute of International Finance. “It will take some time to return to the levels of economic activity and employment that prevailed at the business cycle peak in February, and additional support from monetary — and likely fiscal — policy will be needed,” he said.


IMF joins Powell and Lagarde urging governments to keep spending. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said more public spending will be needed to complete the economic recovery from coronavirus, joining central bankers and finance leaders who are urging governments to set aside fears about mounting debt for now.

     China’s recovery from the pandemic will make it one of the few economies to grow in 2020.


     IMF growth


Tax burden equal to 70% rate crushes Americans unable to pay it. Millions of low-income Americans are locked into poverty thanks to U.S. tax policy, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta researchers say. About a quarter of lower-income workers effectively face marginal tax rates of more than 70% when adjusted for the loss of government benefits, a study led by Atlanta Fed Research Director David Altig found. That means for every $1,000 gained in income, $700 goes to the government in taxes or reduced spending. In some cases, there are no gains at all.


A Fed official wondered whether the Treasury market can handle massive issuance alone. Randal Quarles, the Fed’s vice chairman for supervision, said the Treasury market has grown so large that some level of central bank involvement may need to continue to ensure orderly trading conditions. Link for details.


Market perspectives:


     • Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index is higher. Nymex crude oil prices are lower and trading around $40.00 a barrel. The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note is 0.698% today.

     • Crude oil prices are lower ahead of U.S. gov't inventory data due this morning, delayed a day by the Monday U.S. gov't holiday. Concerns over Covid restrictions (see below) are weighing on crude as U.S. futures are trading around $40.10 per barrel and Brent around $42.45 per barrel. Prices edged higher in Asian action on a drawdown in crude, gasoline and distillates reported by the American Petroleum Institute. U.S. crude was up seven cents at $41.11 per barrel while Brent crude was up six cents at $43.38 per barrel.


    • Malaysian company signals U.S. Customs may consider petition to lift ban on imports of palm oil. Malaysia’s FGV Holdings said it has been told by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that it could consider a petition to revoke an announced import ban on palm oil products from the company if FGV can provide a petition that would include reports from unbiased, third-party audit firms of its operations. "FGV expects to finalize the appointment of such audit firm in the next couple of weeks and to proceed with the audits shortly after," the company said. The firm said it had a conference call with the U.S. agency to get clarification on its findings and steps it could take to get the ban lifted. "However, the CBP could not reveal any information about its findings except that its research had identified the 11 International Labour Organization (ILO) indicators of forced labor in FGV's practices," the company said.


    • Argentine gov't orders Federation of Oilseeds Workers back to work, halting strike. Argentine authorities on Wednesday ended a less-than-24-hour wage strike by the Federation of Oilseeds Workers that had temporarily halted local soy processing at plants owned by major shippers Cargill, Bunge, Glencore and Dreyfus, Reuters reports. The Labor Ministry ordered the union back to work, with the government set to sit down with company and workers' representatives next week, the federation said in a statement.


     • Warmest September ever on record. This September saw the highest globally averaged temperature for the month on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday. The seven hottest Septembers have happened in the last seven years.


Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include (Link to subscribe to FTT):

     • Pullback in NOPA crush expected for September, with plants taking downtime for maintenance
     • Exporter association raises Brazilian soybean and corn export forecasts for Oct.
     • Strategie Grains added 2 MMT to its 2020-21 forecast for the European Union and Britain’s wheat exports beyond the bloc, pushing it to 25 MMT




Trump goes to Iowa and notes what he's done for ethanol and aid to farmers. President Donald Trump on Wednesday spoke at a “Make America Great Again” rally at the Des Moines International Airport. “Nobody has ever done (more) for Iowa and the Farm Belt and the farmers and all. … I saved ethanol. Ethanol is safe," Trump said during a roughly 90-minute speech in front of his supporters. "You're a big state to me," Trump said before a packed crowd. "You have a tremendous influence and a tremendous power and you've never let me down."


     Polls show a close race. The former vice president and Trump were tied at 47% among likely voters in Iowa, according to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll released Sept. 22. During his speech Wednesday, Trump also cited a poll released earlier in the day by Focus on Rural America that showed him leading Biden by 6 percentage points, 50% to 44%. “For me to only be up six, I'm a little bit concerned, I'll tell you that,” Trump said. A senior Trump campaign official expressed confidence about the president's Iowa prospects, saying that internal polling shows him ahead and that the visit also helps congressional candidates, such as Ernst, who is currently trailing the Democratic challenger, Theresa Greenfield, in public polls.


     The president sought to connect to the state, as he touted aid for farmers, hailed state officials and announced he would be awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dan Gable, an Iowa wrestling legend. The former University of Iowa coach won 15 NCAA team championships from 1976 to 1997. Gable joined Trump onstage Wednesday night. "I've coached a lot of athletes over all the years and I tell ya what, when I look at them and I hear them, they kind of remind me of [Trump]," Gable said. "Every one of them you had to mold ... learn a little bit more, they had to get better. And every one of them did, and that's why they were not just one-time champions, and [Trump] is already a one-time champion. But because he's open for learning and he's already very competent, he's going to be a multi-champion President of the United States of America."


     Trump made a direct appeal to the state’s farmers, saying that he was responsible for $28 billion in aid designed to help offset damage stemming from his trade war with China. “I hope you remember that on Nov. 3,” Trump said. But after years of farmers supporting him despite the trade war, some Republicans say Trump’s renewable fuel policy has sown some doubt.


     Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency granted dozens of waivers to petroleum companies seeking to bypass congressional rules requiring the level of the corn-based fuel additive ethanol that gasoline must contain. He has recently denied more waiver requests, but the EPA’s previous action removed about 4 billion gallons of ethanol demand, resulting in the closure — at least temporarily — of more than a dozen ethanol plants in Iowa.


     The president noted how the state’s Republican senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, advocated for the government to deny ethanol waiver requests to oil refiners. The Trump administration allowed those waivers and then changed course last month at the urging of Iowa’s senators. “Nobody called me more on ethanol than Joni and Chuck. In fact, I used to duck their calls — ‘Tell them I’m not in. Just tell them I’m not in. I can’t take it anymore, Joni,’” Trump said. “But that’s what a good senator is. They want to keep your state going."


     Trump urged the crowd to re-elect Ernst this fall. As for Grassley, whose term runs through 2022, Trump said "we don't have to worry about him. He'll be around forever... You know what I love about Chuck Grassley? He’s got that voice, that great voice. Even when he’s being nice, he sounds like the toughest guy," Trump said.


     The president also said his administration “took care” of Iowa after some of the state’s flooding during his first term. “When you had floods all over the place, you were like a large-scale swimming pool. I hate to say it Iowa, I looked at the pictures your governor sent. I said, ‘Kim [Reynolds], I never knew that this was oceanfront property.’ And we took care of you, right? We gave you everything you needed and we got rid of all of the — we’ve rebuilt the dams and the dikes,” he said.


     Big names in attendance. Besides Governor Reynolds in attendance Wednesday, others included Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, former governor Terry Branstad, who also served as Trump’s ambassador to China, Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann and Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, the grandson of U.S. Sen. Chuck Grasslet.


     Branstad resigned as ambassador this fall and returned to Iowa, where he is now campaigning for the re-election of Trump and Sen. Joni Ernst. "About a month ago he called," Trump said of Branstad. "He said, 'Sir, I want to come home now. I want to make sure you get re-elected. I want to come home.' And he’s out there. I know he’s out there working, but we love him. He’s a special guy."


Ernst brings up WOTUS rule, RFS waivers with Supreme Court nominee Barrett. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), during her round of questioning, praised Supreme Court justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett for a decision she helped decide on the Seventh Circuit on the Obama-era waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which Ernst and many Republicans argue exceeded the EPA’s authority. “The decision found that the federal government did not provide enough evidence to justify its decision to deem 13 acres of Illinois wetlands as a water of the U.S.,” Ernst said. “I’m very supportive of a less expansive definition of WOTUS and am encouraged by how you approached this decision.”


     Ernst also made sure Barrett knew her views on the limits of EPA’s authority to exempt small oil refiners from Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) requirements. The Iowa senator praised the Tenth Circuit’s ruling earlier this year sharply restricting the EPA’s authority to issue such exemptions, and she noted oil refiners have appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court deferred for now a decision on whether it will take up that appeal, instead allowing the refiners to submit more information under seal.


     Ernst didn’t ask Barrett to weigh in on the RFS controversy, but she argued EPA “took the law Congress passed” and “twisted it and interpreted it for the benefit of oil producers and that harmed our Iowa farmers.” Barrett, in response to Ernst’s question about how the courts should interpret laws passed by Congress, said if an agency exceeds its statutory authority, “it is the role of the court to say that action is in conflict with the statute and therefore illegal.”


FSA payouts of 2019 ARC/PLC underway as 2021 signup opens. Signup for the Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2021 crop year started Oct. 13 and will run through March 15, 2021. Options include electing coverage and enrolling in crop-by-crop ARC-Count or PLC, or the ARC-Individual for the entire farm. Election changes for 2021 are optional, FSA noted. For the 2022 and 2023 crop years, producers will be able to make a new election during those signups.


     While enrollment started for the 2021 ARC/PLC programs, USDA has begun processing payments under the ARC-County and PLC program on covered commodities that triggered payments for 2019 crops. Those payments total $5 billion. Under PLC, payments were triggered for the following commodities: barley, canola, chickpeas (small and large), corn, dry peas, grain sorghum, lentils, peanuts, seed cotton and wheat. Oats and soybeans did not trigger payments for the 2019 crop year.


     ARC and PLC

PLC payments


 — Stimulus package a post-election, possibly 2021 topic. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Milken Institute Global Conference yesterday that "getting something done" on stimulus before the election "would be difficult." Negotiations over a new package began in July and investors now harbor little hope of large fiscal measures ahead of the election, or even by the end of the year. The three parties to negotiation —Democrats, Republicans and the White House —are blaming each other for the failure to reach agreement ahead of the Nov. 3 vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said major disagreements had yet to be resolved.


Update on China:

  • China raised $6 billion with its latest international bond sale, matching a record set last year, ahead of economic data that is likely to show growth is recovering toward pre-pandemic levels.
  • Mnuchin says China needs to provide more on Covid. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Wednesday said that China owes the U.S. and the world more explanation and information about its early efforts to combat Covid-19. “I do think China needs to be much more transparent about how did Covid start, how did it get around the rest of the world and why they shut down travel inside of China and didn’t shut it down outside,” he said at a conference held by the Milken Institute.
  • Mnuchin says more needs to be done on China trade. While there has been progress in rebalancing the trade relationship with China, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Wednesday that still more needs to be done. “China has a large, growing middle class, over 300 million people. If U.S. companies and U.S. workers can compete for that business, it’s one of the largest opportunities,” Mnuchin said in remarks to a conference conducted by the Milken Institute. “If we can’t compete for that business fairly, then they should not have free access to the U.S. system. This needs to be a fair, reciprocal trading relationship.” However, Mnuchin did not offer any indication of what would be pursued with China on trade in any second Trump term in office.
  • China inflation data provides mixed signals. Inflation at the wholesale level in China fell for an eighth straight month in September, down 2.1% from year ago, but rose 0.1% from August. In August, those prices fell 2%. On the consumer side, prices posted their slowest rise since February 2019 with a year-over-year increase of 1.7%.

    A slowing in the rise in pork prices was one factor as they were up 25.5% from year ago in September, well below the annual increase of 52.6% in August. Prices fell 1.6% from August on a monthly basis. A spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics, Don Lijuan, said the slower price rise came as the government stepped up sales of pork from its state reserves.

    The continued fall in prices at the factory level remains a concern as declines in the producer price index (PPI) indicate there are still demand questions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • USDA announces daily export sales of 261,000 metric tons of soybeans to China 2020-21.
  • Analyst and advisor Richard Crow sizes up China's corn import situation: “The higher corn prices and China wheat prices get a lot of attention in the market. China’s corn price at near $10 and China’s wheat price near $11 are well over world value. China’s corn price is a controlled price to influence the anti-migration of rural people to the cities. China will not open its market to free imports. China is expected to increase its corn imports to help control the inflation price. Yesterday, a sale of 420,000 metric tons was announced to China. The quantity of corn bought by China is now approaching 11 million tons from the U.S. China has corn bought from Ukraine as well as Brazil. Total corn imports of corn to China is expected to be near or over 20 million tons from the world. If the quantity of corn goes over 20 million tons, it would be demand over and above expectations. China’s corn program is expected to start after Jan 1.” USDA's current 2002-21 total China corn import estimate stands at 7.0 MMT.
  • U.S./China Phase 1 tracker: China’s purchases of U.S. goods. Link.

Food and beverage industry update:

  • Reasons behind some food shortages during the pandemic can be found in a can of corn. Corn is a staple in the U.S. with a seemingly limitless supply, but the Wall Street Journal reports (link) that canned corn is among many consumer items that have thinned out drastically as stockpiling and supply chain disruptions have hit the market. Sweet corn has only a single planting season and those had already been set by the time the production shortfall became clear. Transportation problems then hit the market as harvesting began, the article explains. “Fleets that had shrunk last year couldn’t handle the early surge in new demand and trucking companies began rejecting loads on existing contracts to take higher rates in the spot market, driving up shipping costs. Canned-corn brands plan to increase production, but retailers expect high demand this winter will cut deeper into their depleted inventories.”

    Shipping costs

  • JBS SA parent to pay $280 million to settle foreign bribery case. The Brazilian parent company of meatpacking giant JBS SA on Wednesday agreed to pay more than $280 million in fines to the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle charges it violated federal anti-corruption laws. Federal prosecutors alleged J&F Investimentos — overseen by Brazilian nationals Joesley Batista and Wesley Batista — used U.S. bank accounts and shell companies to funnel funds obtained through a bribery scheme to expand its meatpacking operations in the U.S. in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Update on reopening America... and around the world:

  • Resuming international travel: The U.S. is having conversations with international partners about resuming flights, including to Europe and the U.K., the U.S. Department of Transportation said in a statement.
  • Canada’s borders will stay closed as long as coronavirus cases remain elevated in the U.S. “We have committed to keeping Canadians safe and we keep extending the border closures because the States is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
  • Chicago-based United on Wednesday reported a quarterly loss of $1.8 billion and said it is positioning itself to ride out a long downturn in air travel as a result of the pandemic.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) criticized Disney for laying off thousands of workers while buying back shares and giving big payouts to top executives. Link to more from Bloomberg.
  • College enrollment slid this fall, with first-year populations down 16%. Early tally shows sharp enrollment declines at community colleges and among men.


Coronavirus update:

  • Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 are now at 38,537,804 with 1,092,641 deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). The U.S. case count is at 7,916,534 with 216,903 deaths.

    Link to Covid Case Tracker

    Link to Our World in Data

  • France imposed nightly curfews in Paris and eight other big cities to combat a quickening rise in covid-19 cases. Violators will be fined €135 euros ($160).
  • The British government is expected to announce a lockdown in London under which Londoners will be prohibited from mixing with people from other households indoors from midnight on Friday.
  • Barron Trump tested positive for Covid-19; now negative. President Donald Trump’s youngest son, Barron, tested positive for Covid-19, according to a statement issued by First Lady Melania Trump. She said her “fear came true when he was tested again and it came up positive.” He showed no symptoms, she noted, and said he has since tested negative.
  • In a WSJ/NBC poll, 70% of those surveyed expressed willingness to get vaccinated, but about half preferred to wait to make sure the shots are safe and 27% said they wouldn’t want to get vaccinated.
  • Children in day-care programs present virtually no risk of transmitting Covid-19 to adults, according to a new Yale University study of more than 57,000 U.S. child-care providers. The study, believed to be the largest of its kind, indicated that keeping child-care centers open doesn’t contribute to transmission of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, as long as they hew to sanitary guidelines like hand washing, small group sizes and staff wearing face coverings. Analysts say the research has broad implications for the U.S. economy, parents who depend on day-care centers and child-care workers. More than a third of child-care centers in the country closed between March and July.

Politics & Elections


  • Links
    2020 Presidential Election Interactive Map
    The Green Papers
    Real Clear Politics
    2020 Political Atlas
    2020 Demographic Swingometer
    — Next presidential debate: Scheduled to occur Oct. 22.
    Days until election

  • President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will appear at dueling town halls tonight. After garnering the necessary medical clearance, the president will appear in Miami alongside NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. ABC News and George Stephanopoulos will play host to Biden in Philadelphia. Some Democrats and media analysts criticized NBC for scheduling the Trump event at the same time as Biden’s, making it impossible for Americans to watch both candidates live.

    Meanwhile, Trump will continue his march through toss-up states today and throughout the weekend with campaign rallies in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan. Pollsters are sounding the alarm that a Republican presidential nominee is in danger of losing Georgia for the first time since 1992. Republicans have dominated the state for a generation, but a new Quinnipiac University survey found Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden held a 7-point lead, fueled in part by a decline in the state’s aging white population and the population growth in Atlanta.

    Former President Obama is set to headline several campaign events in the coming weeks. Reports note that Obama is expected to visit Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin during the campaign’s homestretch, though details have not been finalized. The 44th president is also expected to appear with Biden during at least one campaign stop. Former first lady Michelle Obama is not expected to join him.

  • Twitter and Facebook are in another row by blocking links to a New York Post article on Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, and his activities in Ukraine. Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, apologized for failing to clarify its rationale; the company has a policy of blocking links to hacked material and personal details like phone numbers. But conservatives labeled it censorship.
  • If one assumes that the Trump vote is being underestimated -- which may or may not be the case -- the size of Biden’s current lead would survive a polling error of the magnitude of 2016, according to calculations from the New York Times (link).
  • Joe Biden raised a record $383 million last month, giving him $432 million in the bank in the final days before the election.
  • Biden has 11-point lead over Trump. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of registered voters shows President Trump rebounding from a 14-point deficit earlier this month, but still in a weaker position than in September.




  • Supreme Court nominee: the next steps. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.) scheduled a committee vote for 9 a.m. ET today, the last day of hearings. Nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination is expected to be brought up for a vote at that meeting and then delayed for a week, per committee rules. If that happens as expected, the GOP-led committee would then vote to approve her nomination Thursday, Oct. 22. That would set up a final confirmation vote on the Senate floor the week of Oct. 26.
  • Coming today: The first-ever federal restrictions on how much hedge funds and other firms can speculate on key commodities. The measures are softer than what was put forth when Barack Obama was president or what might be on the table should Joe Biden capture the White House next month, contacts signal. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) will approve what are known as position limits at a meeting today. Major aspects are little changed from what the CFTC — led by Republican Chairman Heath Tarbert — proposed in January, agency officials said during a call yesterday with reporters. However, they said some adjustments were made to make it easier for businesses to use futures to hedge against commodity price fluctuations. “Our position-limits rule has been a decade in the making,” Tarbert said during the call. He added that the new regulations would provide “clarity” for businesses and are meant to limit excessive speculation. The rules will impose caps on the number of futures that traders can amass for more than a dozen highly traded contracts. Still, in many cases the new limits are likely to be looser than the ones exchanges already have in place. Critics say that means some market participants may actually be permitted to expand their holdings.


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