The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was trading 58 points higher, or 0.35%, by midafternoon. New home sales in April were up 6.4% from March, beating economists' expectations. The Census Bureau data wasn't all positive, though, as sales were down 4.2% from April 2013 and the median price of a new home dropped slightly. With earnings season pretty much over, investors will look toward positive economic data to push the markets higher over the summer.
With that in mind, here are two companies making headlines today.
Inside the Dow, Boeing (NYSE: BA ) has become the world's No. 1 commercial satellite producer, which could help the aviation juggernaut minimize the damage done from a downturn in U.S. defense spending. Commercial satellite revenue looks to account for about 40% of Boeing's satellite business in about five years, which is up from 30% now and 8% in 2006. Demand is growing, and Boeing is discussing opportunities with potential partners such as Google and Facebook.
"A lot of companies are all scrambling for their piece of the pie, and that pie has gotten a lot smaller," Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing's space and intelligence systems business, told Reuters. "At Boeing, we're in a unique position because we have this strong balance between our commercial work and our military work."
Outside the Dow, Ford (NYSE: F ) is nearing the launch of its most profitable vehicle, the F-150 full-size pickup truck. The vehicle will become Ford's most patented truck in history and will incorporate high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloy in the body and cargo box. It will be the first time any automaker has used aluminum on such a large scale. The aluminum will be heat treated using a proprietary method developed by Ford engineers that will nearly double the strength of the metal, according to the automaker.
Not only is the company taking a huge step forward by integrating more aluminum in the truck to decrease weight and improve fuel economy, it's also making a smarter truck with many innovative patents.
"Ford is teaching the world how to build a next-generation truck, and the more than 100 patents filed by the F-150 team for technologies on the 2015 truck further proves these Ford engineers and designers lead the automotive industry in innovation," said Alana Strager, Ford program analyst charged with monitoring new innovations for the 2015 truck.
The launch of the F-150 later this year will be a huge development for investors to watch. Any aluminum supplier issues or other production bottlenecks could halt sales of Ford's most important vehicle and create a huge dent in the company's profitability in the short term. That said, Ford knows what's at stake, so investors should expect a smooth launch and watch as the next generation F-150 attempts to shake up the market.
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