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Biz Notes: Mortgage Rates/ Salmon / Milk Exports To Mexico / More

Mortgage Rates March Higher

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 9.21.37 AMMortgage rates have soared to their highest levels of the year.
The 30-year fixed rate jumped to 4.21 percent on average, up from 4.1 percent last week according to Freddie Mac this week. Rates have marched higher since last July’s 3.4 percent rate. With the Fed expected to raise interest rates next week and the ten-year note hovering near 6 percent, expect higher mortgage rates to come.

Coast Guard Budget In The Block?

Press reports say the Trump administration is considering deep cuts in the budgets of the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as it looks for money to ratchet up security along the southern border. Cut could affect the Central Coast where the Coast Guard monitors smuggler traffic.

Fewer Salmon Returns Expected In 2017

Commercial and sport anglers have received unwelcome news on the predicted return of Chinook salmon this year to California waters. State and federal fishery scientists presented updates on the numbers of spawning Chinook and the expected abundance for the upcoming fishing season at the annual Ocean Salmon Information Meeting held in Santa Rosa earlier this month.

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Forecasts suggest there are 230,700 Sacramento River fall run Chinook adults in the ocean this year, along with 54,200 Klamath River fall run adults. Both forecasts are lower than those of recent years, with the forecast for Klamath fall run being among the lowest on record. Salmon from these runs typically comprise the majority of salmon taken in California’s ocean and inland fisheries.
“With a poor forecast for Klamath fall run and continued concerns over the winter run, California anglers will see reduced Chinook fishing opportunity as compared to last year,” said Brett Kormos, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
Chinook that will be harvested in ocean fisheries in 2017 hatched two to four years ago, and were deeply affected by poor river conditions driven by California’s recent drought.

Slowdown in Exports To Mexico Affect US Milk Powder Prices

January trade data confirms a slowdown in milk product exports to Mexico. Shipments south of the border were valued at $93 million, down 2 percent from last January, and the lowest figure since August 2015. This, according to USDA. Milk powder and cheese exports to Mexico were off. as Mexican buyers looked to other sources of product ,upset over US policy.
Over the same interval the prices of NFDM has dropped from about $1.02/lb as of January 1 to about 81 cents today. US farmers credit NAFTA with opening Mexico to US ag products even though Trump wants to end the agreement.
USDA reports export numbers have climbed 63 percent since NAFTA was adopted in 2006, to $17.7 billion in 2015, the latest numbers available. Leading ag exports in 2015 included: corn ($2.3 billion), soybeans ($1.4 billion), dairy ($1.3 billion), pork ($1.3 billion), and beef ($1.1 billion). These are the U.S. commodities most at risk if trade sanctions were issued by Mexico.

Central Coast Otter Population Rebounds

The 2016 census of southern sea otters was conducted in May along the mainland coast of central California and in April at San Nicolas Island in southern California. The 3-year average of combined counts from the mainland range and San Nicolas Island was 3,272. This is the first year that the of index has exceeded 3,090, the Endangered Species Act delisting threshold suggested
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the threshold would need to be exceeded for 3 consecutive years before delisting consideration)

March Looks Dry Till Last Week

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 6.48.34 AMMarch precipitation looks scant for the southern two thirds of the state at least through the last week of the month. See the NOAA rain forecast though mid March.

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