The market's taken a big step back from its recent record highs today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) has dipped below the 17,000-point mark in afternoon trading. As of 2:30 p.m. EDT, the Dow has shed more than 100 points, with all but a handful of its member stocks sinking into the red so far. Boeing has (NYSE: BA ) taken the biggest hit of the day, with the aerospace giant's shares slipping 1.6% and leading the Dow's fall, while Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) has led the index's corps of gainers so far. Across the market, former Dow member Alcoa's (NYSE: AA ) on tap to release earnings results after the closing bell, kicking off earnings season. Let's catch up on what you need to know.
Trouble on the horizon for Boeing?
Investors have backed off of Boeing today as fears have mounted that Washington could cut off funding for the Export-Import Bank, the federal institution that provides credit and financing to the company and other businesses. Credit ratings agency S&P noted that Boeing could see its future credit in danger if the Export-Import Bank does indeed close, with the aerospace giant potentially needing to drum up between $7 billion and $9 billion in financing. It's also a major concern for Boeing on the competitive landscape: Top rival Airbus receives funding of its own from European export institutions, and without necessary loans and guarantees from the Bank, Boeing could find itself in a bind.
There's still time to act before Boeing is in jeopardy. Congress has until the end of September to authorize new funding for the Bank, and S&P noted that Boeing wouldn't feel immediate effects in 2014 or 2015 from a closure. In the long term, however, such an event would shut down a major source of the company's available customer financing, which provides guaranteed loans and other services for top buyers of Boeing aircraft such as airlines and leasing companies. It's a potentially huge opportunity for Airbus to capitalize on, but for Boeing investors, the drama on Capitol Hill over the Export-Import Bank is a major issue to watch through the rest of the summer.
Elsewhere on the Dow, Wal-Mart's having a better day, even after Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon noted that the ongoing American job recovery hasn't spurred sales as hoped. Simon painted a murky picture of the retail giant's path so far, noting that lower- and middle-income customers -- the demographics that make up the company's core shoppers -- have adjusted spending habits with the ongoing economic pressures. Wal-Mart has looked to adjust itself with a focus on smaller stores and e-commerce, but with five consecutive quarters of declining domestic same-store revenues, the company's best hope may be to focus on overseas progress while the U.S. recovery continues to churn forward. For Wal-Mart investors, it's best to keep a focus on the long term.
Outside the index, aluminum producer Alcoa's stock hasn't moved much today, even though earnings are set to be released after the closing bell. Shares of the former Dow member have advanced by 0.4% as investors await quarterly results, with Wall Street expecting Alcoa to see sales fall by more than 4% year over year. Alcoa has rallied around the surging aerospace industry lately. It made a $2.85 billion acquisition of British aerospace parts manufacturer Firth Rixson last month. That purchase won't have a positive impact on the company's finances just yet, but in the long term, it's a big investment in a surging market for a company that has struggled in the aftermath of the recession.
Alcoa's stock has jumped more than 39% year to date, and a miss today could send shares slumping more than expected -- but the company is making moves with the big picture in mind, and as the U.S. economic recovery forges on, Alcoa's putting together the pieces to impress investors in the long term.
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