After hitting four record highs in four days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is taking a breather -- trading 110 points lower, or 0.65%, by midafternoon. In economic news, the World Bank today toned down its global economic growth forecast for 2014 from 3.2% to 2.8%. The organization's Global Economic Prospects report still projects accelerated growth from the U.S. and Europe as labor markets gradually improve and the effect of government spending cuts lessens. As economic conditions continue to gradually improve, investors have yet to find a significant reason to pull out of the markets.
With that in mind, here are some companies making headlines in the markets today.
Inside the Dow, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) continues to return value to shareholders through increased dividends and share buyback programs despite continued weakness in its mining equipment business. Caterpillar announced today that it would increase the quarterly cash dividend by 17% to $0.70 per share of common stock. The increased dividend will be paid on Aug. 20, 2014, to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 21.
"Despite business and economic uncertainties around the world, our balance sheet has remained strong -- the strongest it's been in more than two decades -- positioning us to perform through the cycles. In addition, our global team has delivered solid operational and financial performance, enabling Caterpillar to return over $5.0 billion of capital to stockholders through stock buybacks and dividends since the beginning of 2013," Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman said in a press release.
Caterpillar's ability to return value to shareholders has been a silver lining in what have been stormy times over the last couple of years. Here's a good look at the long-term effort by Caterpillar's management to repurchase shares and increase dividends.
Boeing (NYSE: BA ) slid 2.4% to take its spot as the Dow's worst performer today after the U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was defeated in a primary election. Cantor has been a big supporter of the Export-Import Bank of the United States and his defeat jeopardizes the bank's future.
This could impact the plane-building giant, as the Export-Import Bank enables low-cost lending which aids foreign airliners with the financing to buy jets from manufacturers such as Boeing.
According to Bloomberg, Boeing said last month that the Export-Import Bank would support $10 billion of this year's sales. For context, Boeing's 2014 revenue is projected in the range of $87.5 billion to $90.5 billion.
If the Export-Import Bank isn't renewed by Sept. 30, it won't be able to help foreign airliners finance any new orders. However, the potential short-term damage could be softer as the bank would be able to service existing commitments. Still, this is something that Boeing investors should watch.
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