World Bulletin / News Desk
Tropical Storm Isaac, poised to hit Cuba on Saturday, will likely bring minimal relief from the worst U.S. drought in more than half a century, with rains expected in a limited area in the U.S. Southeast or possibly further west into Alabama and Mississippi, an agricultural meteorologist said on Friday.
"Computer maps have been all over the place but it looks like the storm will make landfall in Florida Sunday. That would bring the most rain, probably an inch to four inches or more in the southeast," said Andy Karst, meteorologist for World Weather Inc.
Karst said there are some weather guidance systems that peg the storm's path further west into the southern U.S. which could bring rain to the drought-stricken lower Midwest crop region.
"Confidence is low in that forecast; for now it looks like it will make landfall first in the Florida Panhandle," he said.
The southwest portion of the U.S. Midwest, including eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and southern Iowa should receive from 0.50 inch to 1.00 inch or more of rain Saturday through Monday, with lighter showers in the balance of the Midwest, Karst said.
"It will provide minimal drought relief since it will turn warmer and drier again next week," he said.
Commodity Weather Group (CWG) on Friday said Isaac appeared most likely to track a bit further west, with landfall as a hurricane by Tuesday or Wednesday along the Gulf Coast, possibly Alabama or Mississippi.
Confidence was still low on the exact track of the storm, but the heaviest rains appear more likely to focus on Alabama, Mississippi and the Tennessee Valley rather than the Southeast based on Friday's forecast, CWG said.
Only minor delays in early corn harvest are expected, according to CWG.
Torrential rainfall and wind, while adding valuable soil moisture for fall wheat seeding, could harm some of the early- maturing corn and soybean crops that have already been weakened by the worst drought over the summer in half a century.
The annual Pro Farmer tour of Midwest crops found signs of severe crop losses in the top two corn- and soybean-producing states of Iowa and Illinois on Wednesday. Specialists on the tour pegged corn yields at the lowest in Illinois since 1995.
A Reuters poll of 11 analysts on Wednesday estimated the 2012 U.S. corn yield per acre at 121.5 bushels, the lowest in 16 years, and production at 10.5 billion bushels, an eight-year low.
In its first survey asking for estimates of the amount of corn to be harvested compared with plantings, the poll showed the percentage of harvested corn area at the lowest in nine years.
Analysts' expectations for corn production this season fell 3 percent below the U.S. government's forecast earlier in August and 6 percent below a similar poll of analysts' taken by Reuters at the end of July.
Soybean yield was pegged at 36.6 bushels per acre, an 8-year low, and production at 2.713 billion bushels, a 4-year low. Harvested soybean acreage was pegged at a near normal 97.5 percent of plantings.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday said 4 percent of the U.S. corn crop had already been harvested, the fastest start ever. The crop was planted early, then pushed to maturity by relentless heat and drought over the summer.
The hackers broke into a database storing details of people who had registered for ECB conferences, visits and other events, the bank said.
Russia generated $356 billion from oil, gas exports last year, data shows.
While stopping far short of targeting physical energy supplies, EU ministers for the first time this week raised the idea of restricting Russian access to oil and gas technology.
They were among nine organisations and three people added to the EU's Syria sanctions list, published in the bloc's Official Journal
Land reform remains a sensitive issue in South Africa, where 20 years after the end of apartheid the white minority still holds around 87 percent of commercial farm land.
Talks are reportedly underway for a number of investment projects, including in pharmaceuticals and automotive assembly, but no final investment agreements are expected this week.
The yuan will be the world's third largest currency after the U.S. dollar and euro, a Chinese report predicts.
Unemployment currently stands at 12.7 percent in Kenya and affects 30 percent of the country's population
GM so far this year has recalled about 14.7 million vehicles worldwide with switch-related issues and has linked at least 16 deaths to those issues.
The deal includes hydropower and nuclear power plants in the South American country.
State-run think tank Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) reported earlier this month that a twin-engine version of the fighter jet is expected to cost around 8.5 trillion won
Western officials have repeatedly warned Iranian counterparts over the past six months that more economic pain is a risk for an OPEC member whose oil exports have already shrunk to a fraction of what they could have been
The EU's employment commissioner said he has asked to meet with Microsoft to discuss the social impact of the layoffs.
Although China has promised to invest in Brazil for years and failed to deliver, the pace of deals is picking up with a focus on deficient infrastructure.
The financial aid would be used for rebuilding houses and public buildings, the rapid restoration of water and energy supplies and urgent assistance for those still without proper shelter.
Washington and Brussels say Moscow has been fanning separatist violence in eastern Ukraine and broadened their sanctions, sending Russian shares and the rouble currency down.