Gabi Thesing at Bloomberg reports that the European Central Bank left its benchmark rate at 1% today--the sixteenth month the rate has been at 1%.
"Separately, the Bank of England left its main rate at 0.5% and kept its bond-stimulus plan at 200 billion pounds ($318 billion)."2. EVANS PRITCHARD ARGUES THE SPIKE IN WHEAT PRICES IS LIKELY TO GO DOWN; RUSSIA BANS EXPORT OF WHEAT FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR
Ambrose Evans Pritchard at the UK Telegraph says that the current problems with wheat are not the same as the problems which caused the 2008 wheat price spike. Global wheat stocks are much higher, the cost of oil is down, and there are likely to be bumper harvests in the US and elsewhere. In the meantime, Andrew E. Kramer and Jack Healy at the New York Times report that Russia announced today that it would ban grain exports through the rest of the year.
"In announcing the ban, which is in force from Aug. 15 to Dec. 31, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin said that Russia had sufficient stockpiles of grain but that blocking exports was an appropriate response to the worst drought in decades.3. PEMEX REDUCES ACTIVITIES IN NORTHERN MEXICO DUE TO DRUG VIOLENCE
'We need to prevent a rise in domestic food prices, we need to preserve the number of cattle and build up reserves for the next year,' he said during a televised cabinet meeting, according to The Associated Press. 'As the saying goes: reserves don’t make your pocket heavy.'"
Upstream online reports that Pemex, the Mexican state oil company, has scaled back drilling and maintenance in the north's Burgos basin due to the deteriorating security situation there because of the ongoing drug violence in the region.
4. CHINA ADDED THE MOST WIND POWER IN 2009, SURPASSING THE US
Austin Carr in Fast Company reports that China overtook the US in 2009 in terms of added wind power capacity. Cumulatively, the US still has more wind power, but if this trend continues not for long.
5. RELIANCE TAKES THIRD STAKE IN MARCELLUS SHALE GAS
Rakteem Katakey at Bloomberg reports that Reliance Industries of India has agreed to pay $392 million for a 60% stake in acreages in the Marcellus shale-gas areas of central and northeast Pennsylvania held by Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc. This is the third US shale gas acquisition Reliance has made this year.
6. VIOLENCE IN DARFUR ON THE RISE
Neil MacFarquhar at the New York Times reports that violence in Sudan's Darfur region is on the rise again as the referendum on independence in southern Sudan approaches.
7. INITIAL JOBLESS CLAIMS CLIMB TO 479,000
Bob Willis at Bloomberg reports that "Initial jobless claims climbed by 19,000 to 479,000 in the week ended July 31, the most since April."
8. RETAIL SALES IN JULY WERE FLAT YEAR-OVER-YEAR
MasterCard's SpendingPulse reports that overall July sales were flat year over year.
"Michael McNamara, Vice President, Research and Analysis for SpendingPulse, observes 'Overall, retail sales continued to tread water, following the pattern set with June's sales when consumers demonstrated a reluctance to make larger purchases, and instead, traded down. Particularly, we are noticing some weakness in industry sectors that rely on higher priced ticket items such as furniture and discretionary areas such as luxury and jewelry. We are also seeing this pattern echoed in the restaurant business, where we have seen consumers shift from full-service restaurants and particularly fine dining, to limited-service and quick-service outlets.'"