Curt Thacker - Dow Jones Newswires

via - Jan 15, 2013




Payroll Tax Takes A New Bite


American workers are opening their first paychecks of the year and finding an unpleasant surprise: The government's take has gone up. A temporary cut in Social Security withholdings gave Americans hundreds of extra dollars to spend over the past two years. But Congress allowed that break to expire during the wrangling over the fiscal cliff, meaning workers again are on the hook for taxes amounting to 2% of their salaries.


Ahead of the Tape: Retail Sales to Hold Clues to Taxing Times


Back during the housing boom, local tax officials were at a loss to explain why sales-tax revenue was outstripping income-tax withholding. We know how that ended, as people ran out of equity to extract from their homes to spend on flat-screen TVs and the like. Last month saw the opposite trend, according to the Liscio Report, which analyzes state-level tax collections. There was a big drop from a month earlier in the percentage of states meeting expectations for sales-tax receipts. It is still hard to know how this particular divergence will end or even if it was some sort of anomaly, but an early clue will come from Tuesday's government report on retail sales.




China Food Prices Rose Last Week; Pork Leads Increases


BEIJING--Food prices in China rose in the week to Sunday, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement issued late Monday. China's food-price movements indicate inflationary pressures as food accounts for about a third of its consumer price index. Wholesale-pork prices, a major indicator for inflation, rose 2.1%, though prices were still 5.1% lower than in the same period a year earlier, the ministry said.


Vilsack To Stay U.S. Agriculture Secretary For Second Obama Term


WASHINGTON--Tom Vilsack will keep his job as head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a second term under President Barack Obama, White House and USDA officials said Monday. Mr. Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, led the USDA during the worst drought to hit American farmers since the 1950s. He has been criticized for his staunch support for corn-based ethanol. Corn prices rose to record levels last year as drought conditions scorched fields across the country.




Cash-Cattle Traders Eye Beef, Futures for Direction Signals


Cash-cattle traders will keep an eye on wholesale-beef prices and the futures markets for possible direction signals pointing to this week's cash trade, which is expected to occur Thursday or Friday. Beef processors continue to restrict their slaughter schedules due to poor margins and difficulties in getting higher prices for the beef. Projections for this week's slaughter range from around 620,000 to nearly 630,000 head. Last week's slaughter was estimated at 624,000 head.


Cash-Hog Prices Mainly Flat; Supplies, Demand in Balance


Early predictions for the Midwest direct-hog markets Tuesday are mainly steady, or flat, with the previous day's quotes. Supplies of slaughter-ready animals and demand from processors for them appear generally to be in balance, which could result in a mostly flat market overall for the week. Competition for the hogs that are available is expected to help underpin the market while poor processing margins could limit upside moves for prices, livestock dealers said.