Often, news about growth in the U.S. economy ends up being the dominant theme for the day it comes out. Yet, despite some concerns about a weaker-than-expected GDP report, what really seemed to motivate investors today was the stream of earnings reports, and other individual-company events, that largely cancelled each other out. By the close, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) finished up just 12 points, while the S&P 500 went the other way, falling less than 0.2%.
Among the positive contributors to the Dow was Chevron (NYSE: CVX), which climbed more than 1% after releasing earnings that beat expectations. Despite both revenue and income coming in with mid-single-digit percentage declines, the oil giant managed to increase its production volumes slightly, although not enough to offset falling prices for oil and gas. Unlike some of its peers, Chevron's refining division also suffered due to repairs and maintenance work; but, in the long run, the company appears better poised to deliver the growth it will need in order to sustain its massive energy portfolio.
Boeing (NYSE: BA) also climbed, with a gain of nearly 1.5%, as investors welcomed news from Japanese authorities allowing its 787 Dreamliner aircraft to start flying again once installation of new battery systems is complete. With Japanese airlines playing a pivotal role in the 787's launch, the move should go a long way toward helping Boeing put the long grounding of the Dreamliner behind it.
Yet, Alcoa (NYSE: AA) reminded investors that conditions aren't perfect within the Dow, as rating agency Standard & Poor's revised its outlook on the company's credit rating to negative. With Alcoa just barely clinging to the lowest investment-grade rating of BBB-, S&P cited weak aluminum prices and poor demand as affecting the quality of its debt. If the move is followed by a downgrade in the future, it could have an impact on what the company pays for new financing in the future.
Finally, 3M (NYSE: MMM) fell another 1%, following through on larger losses yesterday in the wake of its poor forward guidance in its quarterly report. As Fool contributor and 3M-stock specialist Travis Hoium noted earlier today, 3M simply hasn't been able to restart its innovation engines to produce organic growth, and unless that happens, the stock's big advance could easily reverse itself in the near future.
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