Blue-chip stocks are modestly lower today as conflicting economic news and a couple of big earnings announcements weigh on investors' minds. With roughly an hour left in the trading session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is off by a mere 10 points, or 0.07%.
On the economic front, the Department of Commerce reported this morning (click here for the press release -- link opens PDF) that domestic orders for durable goods -- typically, big-tickets items designed to last at least three years -- dropped by 5.7% last month compared to February. The decline was led by a 48% fall in sales of nondefense aircraft and parts.
In slightly more upbeat news, the Mortgage Bankers Association released data this morning showing that mortgage applications increased 0.2% last week. On the heels of this news, shares of the nation's largest banks are heading higher. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) is up by 2.4%, while JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) is higher by 1.4%. Both banks reported impressive year-over-year gains in mortgage-origination volumes when they released earnings earlier this month: Bank of America's were up by 50%, and JPMorgan's by 37%.
Boeing (NYSE: BA ) is one of the Dow's best-performing components today, up 3%. The aerospace company disclosed this morning that it earned $1.44 per share on $18.89 billion in revenue. While the bottom-line figure was better than the $1.22 per share that it earned last year, the top-line figure came in 2.5% lower.
Shares are nevertheless rallying due to a number of upbeat comments during the conference call concerning Boeing's flagship 787 Dreamliner, which has been plagued with mechanical problems since going into service. The company said it hopes to restart deliveries in early May and to finish repairing the roughly 50 planes already in service by the middle of the month. Needless to say, this could be a big catalyst for Boeing stock if and when it happens.
Meanwhile, the biggest laggard on the blue-chip index today is AT&T (NYSE: T ) , which reported first-quarter earnings after the bell yesterday. But unlike Boeing, AT&T failed to impress investors, who have sent the company's shares down 5.3% at the time of writing.
For the three months ended March 31, AT&T saw its earnings increase by 3.2% to $0.64 per share. This was in line with analyst estimates. However, its revenue shrank by 1.5% on a year-over-year basis to $31.36 billion. The consensus estimate was for sales of $31.75 billion.
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