LOCAL BUSINESS

Political talk in Brunswick

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci will tour Philpott Rubber in Brunswick on Friday morning and host a roundtable discussion with 10 to 15 business leaders at the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce.

The event is part of what is called “Stop the Tax Hike Day,” a series of national events aimed at highlighting proposed tax increases that would take place on Jan. 1. President Barack Obama and other Democrats are pushing to increase taxes for those who earn more than $250,000 a year.

The National Federation of Independent Business says 75 percent of small businesses pay taxes on their business income at the individual rate. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the proposed tax hike would hit about 940,000 small businesses nationwide, according to a news release from Renacci’s office.

Renacci, R-Wadsworth, said he will try to prevent the tax increase. He said he wants to “highlight some of the companies who stand directly in the line of fire if the tax rates are allowed to increase.”

ECONOMY

Lower steel prices possible

Higher global food costs caused by the drought in the U.S. could lead to lower steel prices by prompting China to curb inflation and slow demand for metals, said Barry Ehrlich, a Moscow-based analyst at Alfa Bank.

A sustained 20 percent increase in agricultural prices in the U.S. could push up Chinese inflation by 2.6 percentage points, as food accounts for about 30 percent of the country’s consumer price index, Ehrlich said.

Soybean and corn prices climbed to all-time highs this week, as U.S. farmers face the worst drought since 1956. Meanwhile, India is delaying sowing because of a late monsoon and below-average rainfall is also confronting Australian crops. China accounts for 48 percent of global steel consumption and any cut on stimulus measures aimed at controlling inflation would slow home sales and construction, hurting steel demand, Ehrlich said.

The risks are higher for Russian steelmakers, as rising global food prices rise may contribute to political and social tensions in oil-producing countries and “likely exert upward pressure” on oil and the ruble, Ehrlich said.

Food costs could increase

U.S. consumers may pay 3 percent to 4 percent more for food next year, as the effects of the country’s worst drought since the 1950s works its way onto supermarket shelves, the Department of Agriculture said Wednesday in its first forecast for 2013.

Beef may rise as much as 5 percent in response to tight supplies of corn, which is used to feed cattle, the USDA said. The price of the grain, the country’s biggest crop, has surged more than 50 percent since June 15. Food prices will rise 2.5 to 3.5 percent this year, the agency said, leaving its 2012 estimate unchanged.

Corn and soybean futures both reached record highs this week and wheat touched its highest since 2008 as the dry conditions worsened. The drought that prompted the USDA to declare natural disasters in almost 1,300 counties in 29 states — about a third of the country’s total — may lead to the smallest corn harvest since 2006, Doan Advisory Services Co. said July 23. Food costs have risen 1 percent so far this year.

“The transmission of commodity price changes into retail prices typically takes several months ... and most of the impact of the drought is expected to be realized in 2013,” said Richard Volpe, the USDA’s food economist.

State assistance for farmers

Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order Wednesday that he says will help farmers affected financially by Ohio’s recent drought conditions. The order instructs state agencies to help farmers seeking federal assistance on loans. That includes emergency low-interest loans for crop losses, relief payments for non-insurable losses and temporary deferral payments on federal loans.

Foreclosure process studied

A foreclosure review process for certain Ohioans whose homes were foreclosed on because of errors or misrepresentations by lenders means they could be eligible for $125,000 in assistance, Sen. Sherrod Brown said in a teleconference on Wednesday.

Brown said only 6,000 of the 140,000 eligible Ohioans have initiated a foreclosure review process. Brown said a review by the HomeOwnership Center in Dayton found that more than 140,000 Ohioans whose homes were foreclosed on in 2009 and 2010 are eligible to apply to the Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) process. Deadline is Sept. 30.

Dow rises 58 points

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 58.73 points to 12,676.05. That snapped a three-day, triple-digit losing streak. The Standard & Poor’s 500 slipped 0.42 points to end at 1,337.89.

Compiled from staff and wire reports