The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was trading 29 points lower, or 0.17%, in midafternoon after a Federal Reserve official commented that interest rate increases should take place by the close of first-quarter 2015. St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said the U.S. economy is closer to normal than most figure, with the jobless rate set to fall below 6% and inflation rising to 2% later in 2014, but he doesn't believe a potential uptick in interest rates is priced into the markets. While that could help explain today's small pullback, long-term investors should cheer the news that the U.S. economy is continuing to gain strength, albeit gradually.
With that in mind, here are a couple companies making headlines in the markets today.
Inside the Dow, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) is preparing to unleash its lobbying machine to help save the Export-Import Bank from looming death by non-reauthorization later this year. The Ex-Im Bank's primary purpose is to authorize loans, credits, and guarantees to foreign buyers. If the Ex-Im Bank were to meet its demise, foreign companies that partially relied on its subsidies might not purchase American goods. Caterpillar says it could cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars in exports lost to Japanese, Chinese, and other international companies.
"There's a sense of urgency," Kathryn Karel, Caterpillar's vice president of law and public policy, told The Wall Street Journal. "We need to get some information in front of [Congress] to educate them on the trickle down effects,".
Caterpillar isn't in this fight alone, as Dow index juggernauts such as Boeing (NYSE: BA ) and General Electric also stand to lose potential export business without the Ex-Im Bank helping to facilitate trade. According to an analysis by George Mason University, the Ex-Im Bank helped support $8.3 billion in Boeing's sales in 2013 -- nearly 10% of its overall revenue for the year.
The Ex-Im Bank also helps smaller companies and claims that it supported 200,00 American jobs last year by financing or guaranteeing $37.4 billion of U.S. exports.
The Sept. 30 reauthorization deadline is definitely something for Caterpillar, Boeing, and GE investors to keep an eye on. Throughout the bank's history, 14 of 16 reauthorizations have passed by unanimous consent or voice vote in at least one chamber of Congress, according to Business Insider.
In industrial news outside the Dow, General Motors (NYSE: GM ) could be gearing up for another round of recalls after the automaker ordered dealers to stop selling 2013 and 2014 models of its Chevrolet Cruze sedan. This recall wouldn't be linked to its ongoing ignition-switch saga; rather, the situation involves air bags made by Japanese supplier Takata, which are already the subject of multiple recalls involving Toyota and Nissan vehicles.
A Cruze recall could inflate General Motors' sky-high recall numbers for 2014, which have already topped 17.7 million vehicles in the U.S. and more than 20 million in North America. Chevrolet's Cruze is GM's best-selling car, with more than 32,000 sold last month alone and nearly 120,000 through the first five months of this year.
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