On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) quickly put their first-quarter losses behind them, with the average rising 69 points as of 11 a.m. EDT. Positive comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen yesterday continued to give investors confidence that the 5-year-old bull market has further to run, but favorable news on the corporate front also helped send the Dow higher. Boeing (NYSE: BA ) jumped about 1% to outperform the Dow's gain, even as telecom giants AT&T (NYSE: T ) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) were among the few losing blue-chip stocks today.
Boeing news items lately have tended to be a mixed bag, with new orders pouring in but controversies over recent mishaps with its aircraft still popping up. Today's news was positive on both fronts, as a Chicago judge dismissed a petition that sought more information about the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 -- a Boeing 777 -- as a possible precursor to discovery. The ruling won't stop possible legal action in the future, but it should keep the proceedings more in line with typical practice, which should be to Boeing's advantage. Moreover, Boeing announced that it had finalized a $6.5 billion order with Air Canada for more than five dozen 737 MAX aircraft, as well as options and rights to purchase even more of the fuel-saving aircraft. Even as the aircraft maker faces growing pains with many of its new models, Boeing has the capacity to reap huge revenue as long as it can iron out early kinks.
AT&T yesterday announced a massive stock repurchase of more than $10 billion, with the ability to buy back up to 300 million shares. Although buybacks generally spur bullish moves in stock prices, AT&T shares didn't rise yesterday, and investors appear concerned about the telecom's ability to grow, sending shares down 1% this morning. By making such a big repurchase of shares, AT&T seems less likely to go after a major acquisition to respond to Verizon's complete takeover of its Verizon Wireless division.
Affecting both AT&T and Verizon are moves from Sprint (NYSE: S ) to consider an alternative to cable-based broadband Internet service. Although setting up such a network would involve huge costs, it still represents a potential threat to the investment that Verizon and AT&T have made into more conventional broadband. Sprint's threat is far from immediate, but as investors consider the long-term future of telecom, it's clear that AT&T and Verizon will have to keep working hard to preserve their lead over rivals in the U.S. while continuing to find growth opportunities as technology develops.
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