The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) once again showed investors why they have posted such impressive gains over the past five years, as early concerns gave way to optimism about the state of the U.S. economy. The specter of continuing unrest in Ukraine raised geopolitical risk levels, and a report on the Chinese economy suggested that a long-awaited acceleration in growth from the world's second-largest economic power might not happen as soon as investors had hoped. Yet promising signs from the U.S. services sector helped turn the Dow around, and by the close the Dow Jones Industrials finished up almost 18 points, with Boeing (NYSE: BA ) and Visa (NYSE: V ) leading the way.
Boeing climbed more than 1.5% as the aerospace giant saw some big gains in its military business Monday. The House Armed Services Committee made a proposal to increase the U.S. Navy's budget by $450 million in order to provide funding five EA-18G attack planes, marking a partial victory but a partial defeat for Boeing. Yet Boeing expects to get additional funding to cover not only additional EA-18G planes but also F/A-18 fighter jets, and with the leverage of its EA-18G manufacturing plant in St. Louis, Boeing can expect support from lawmakers in the areas to try to free up additional money. Given how much bargaining power Boeing showed it had when negotiating with labor unions in the Seattle area over whether to keep production facilities there or move them to other states, Boeing's belief that it's close to a contract for a broader package seems quite realistic.
Meanwhile, Visa rose 1.3%, bouncing back from some turbulent moves recently. Both Visa and its main rival had said in the past couple of weeks that they had potential exposure if Russia decided to retaliate against U.S. economic sanctions by taking greater control of their respective payment systems. With potential measures like requiring an in-country processing center for transactions, Visa would face the threat of having its property nationalized in the event of harsher U.S. sanctions against Russia. Yet today, investors seemed to realize that Russia is only a small part of Visa's overall business, and even though Russia's growth prospects might be greater than those in other parts of the world, Visa has every chance of continuing its growth trajectory even if things go horribly wrong in the Eurasian nation.
Just because the Dow avoided taking a hit Monday doesn't mean it will emerge from all the recent turmoil in the world unscathed. But today's moves from Visa and Boeing show that even in tough times, there are opportunities to profit.
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