After spending most of the day in the red, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was flirting around breakeven at 3 p.m. With the recent federal jobs report disappointing most economists and investors, the Conference Board reported that its January employment trends index increased modestly to 116.61 from a revised 115.62 in December.
"Despite weak job reports in December and January, the [index] is not signaling a slowdown in employment growth," said Gad Levanon, director of macroeconomic research at the board, according to Morningstar. "We expect solid job growth and rapid declines in the unemployment rate to continue in the coming months."
With that in mind, here are some companies making headlines today as we kick off the second trading week in February.
Boeing (NYSE: BA ) certainly did its part in 2013 to push the Dow higher, but the company is off to a slow start in 2014. In a piece of potential good news for investors of the aviation giant, Singapore Airlines is preparing an order of dozens of wide-body jets. The order is almost certainly going to Boeing or rival Airbus for their respective 777X or A350 airplanes.
Reuters reported that Singapore Airlines could order as many as 40 777X airplanes in a deal possibly worth $15 billion at list prices. No announcement regarding the potential order is expected to surface at this week's Singapore Airshow.
In other news, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) subsidiary Electro-Motive Disel has protested a contract won by Siemens Industry to build diesel-electric locomotives for a high-speed rail line connecting Chicago and St. Louis. The contract is expected to be worth $1.3 billion. It includes an option for an additional 225 locomotives, which could be worth billions more.
Electro-Motive claims that contract specifications were blatantly disregarded in favor of Siemens as the company's locomotive would only reach the specified 125 mph going downhill. This enabled the Siemens to put a less costly engine, with four fewer cylinders, in the locomotives to win the bid.
"If we didn't have to build a locomotive that went 125 mph we could have cut a lot of money out of that contract," said Gary Eelman, Electro-Motive vice president of passenger locomotive sale, according to Chicago Business. "We worked very hard to make sure we had an engine big enough and beefy enough to pull trains at 125 mph."
Outside of the Dow, Toyota Motor (NYSE: TM ) has become the latest automaker to announce its intentions to pull operations out of Australia. The Japanese automaker will stop building cars in Australia in 2017, which essentially ends the auto industry in the nation after Ford and General Motors announced their exit plans last year. Toyota cited high manufacturing costs and an elevated Australian dollar as forcing its withdrawal from the island continent.
"We did everything that we could to transform our business, but the reality is that there are too many factors beyond our control that make it unviable to build cars in Australia," Toyota Australia President Max Yasuda said in the statement, according to Automotive News. "Our manufacturing operations have continued to be loss-making despite our best efforts."
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