The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was trading down 23 points, or 0.14%, by midafternoon as mixed economic data hit the news feeds and investors looked to Thursday's early release of U.S. employment data. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes are on pace to finish sixth straight quarters of gains, which Reuters said hasn't happened in 14 years.
"The Fed and other global monetary forces have done their best to keep this market as liquid as possible, and that liquidity is restricting investors from finding a place other than stocks and have enabled risk takers to stay confident," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management, told Reuters.
With that in mind, here are some major companies making headlines in the markets today.
Inside the Dow, aviation juggernaut Boeing (NYSE: BA ) and rival Airbus are among three bidders for a $1.38 billion contract to provide four refueling tanker aircraft to the South Korean military.
The contract could be the latest win for Boeing's KC-46 tanker, though it would not move the needle like the 2011 deal to replace 179 U.S. Air Force KC-135 tankers with the KC-46 -- a contract that, if extended for the full 400 count of Air Force tankers, could be worth over $75 billion. That's nearly a full year's worth of revenue for Boeing, which already has a massive $440 billion backlog of orders.
Ultimately, few companies can offer the amount of revenue transparency that Boeing can, and that looks to continue into the foreseeable future.
In other industrial news, Ford (NYSE: F ) is officially saying goodbye to arguably the industry's best CEO this week as Alan Mulally retires. It's been a remarkable turnaround for the Blue Oval since Mulally's arrival in 2006. He orchestrated a massive loan, on the company's own dime, to help Ford limp through the recent recession and avoid bankruptcy -- unlike the company's Detroit rivals.
With Mulally was at the helm, the company developed its "One Ford" plan that focused on designing and producing more fuel efficient and modern vehicles. It's been a huge success and has enabled Ford since 2010 to string together some of its most profitable years in company history.
It's a bittersweet moment for Ford investors, but there are few worries that the automaker will skip a beat when COO Mark Fields takes over as chief executive.
"In many ways, Alan's best act is his final act by giving the company this wonderful opportunity to have an amazing transition," Bill Ford said, according to Automotive News.
This year is expected to be a bit of a bumpy ride, in terms of profits, compared to 2013, as Ford is embarking on its most aggressive vehicle launch schedule in company history. The launches include many of Ford's most important vehicles, including the F-Series that remains America's best-selling vehicle. The full-size pickup is also the company's most profitable product, and Ford's management team will be on its toes to make sure the newly aluminum-bodied pickup will have a flawless roll out.
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