Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
After focusing largely on earnings for the past week-and-a-half, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) got a bucket of cold water thrown in its face on the global economic front. A poor reading on China's manufacturing sector suggested that the key emerging-market economy might see a contraction from the important industry, spooking investors who had thought that emerging markets might finally start to look healthier. That weighed on U.S. industrial giants Boeing (NYSE:BA) and DuPont (NYSE:DD), each of which fell more than 2%, as well as some of the financial stocks in the Dow. But after the bell, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) reported favorable earnings that could provide a bit of lift to the average Friday.
Boeing's drop coincided with its first bad news on the order-cancellation front this year. The aerospace giant said that it had three orders for 737 aircraft cancelled during the first three weeks of the year, offsetting new orders for 33 737s. For the most part, though, China's pullback should have only minimal impacts on Boeing, given that the company has profited from the specific improvement in the airline industry. As long as airlines look to boost their long-term profitability by replacing less efficient older aircraft with newer models, Boeing should be able to grow unless a slowdown in growth turns into an outright recession.
DuPont, on the other hand, is positioning itself to be much more dependent on favorable global economic conditions. As it moves to focus more on the agricultural chemical and products segment, DuPont needs to see emerging-market countries continue to improve their standards of living, and seek to diversify their food supplies in order to drive demand. If key economies start to reverse course and become less prosperous, it could put a stop to ag-product growth for DuPont and its peers.
Finally, Microsoft gained 0.3% in the regular session today, but it added more than 3% in after-hours trading after reporting an 11% jump in adjusted revenue that led to the tech giant beating earnings estimates by $0.10 per share. The company reported 3.9 million Xbox One sales for the quarter, with total hardware sales up 68%. Favorable results in commercial license revenue and the overall devices-and-consumer segment were particularly encouraging, with sales of its Surface tablet more than doubling from the prior quarter. With many continuing to write Microsoft off as a has-been in the technology industry, any positive results could send the stock higher.
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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.