The stock market gained ground on Monday morning, as investors overcame fears of a global economic slowdown. Favorable data on retail sales helped bolster the notion that the U.S. economy might be able to avoid the pressures that other parts of the world are seeing. As of 11:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 82 points to 25,532. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) rose 29 points to 2,772, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) was higher by 113 points to 7,521.
Much of the attention in the market centered on individual company news. Boeing (NYSE:BA) was the big mover in the Dow as the stock reacted negatively to a crash of its aircraft, while Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) enjoyed box-office success in the latest in a long series of movies resulting from one of its most lucrative acquisitions in its history.
Boeing faces new questions
Shares of Boeing dropped 7%, making it by far the biggest drag on the Dow this morning. The aerospace giant's decline followed the crash of a 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Ethiopia that killed all 157 people aboard. The Ethiopian Airlines jet tragedy was the second incident in five months for the 737 MAX 8 model, which has been one of the most popular upgrades that Boeing has made to its jet fleet in recent years. A late-October crash of a Lion Air flight off the coast of Indonesia resulted in the deaths of 189 people.
In response to the latest crash, several nations around the world grounded all of their 737 MAX 8 planes pending further investigation into the cause. Boeing had already implemented new safety systems to address issues from the Lion Air incident, and it's unknown whether the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash was related to the earlier problem.
With the 737 being the most popular Boeing model, shareholders are rightly concerned that perceptions of overall unreliability could lead to airlines and other purchasers pulling back on orders if the aircraft manufacturer doesn't take immediate steps to remedy any problems. That said, with Boeing being one of just two manufacturers of large-body commercial jet aircraft, it would be hard for customers to pivot quickly to find replacement planes -- especially among the many companies that have relied almost exclusively on Boeing for their aircraft for decades.
Disney makes another blockbuster
Disney shares were up less than 1% on Monday as the entertainment and media giant got the results from the opening weekend of its latest release. As of Sunday, Captain Marvel had brought in an estimated $153 million in the U.S. market alone, with global box office ticket sales coming in at $455 million. Those figures put the film among the top three March releases in history, helping to reinvigorate what had been a tough year for movie theaters.
Shareholders had highly anticipated the film's release as the first of many Disney hit films scheduled for 2019. Two of Disney's most prominent franchises will have new titles this year, including Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars Episode IX. A new installment of Toy Story along with updated renditions of Lion King and Aladdin could also contribute to the company's box office success.
Investors in Disney have worried about the declines in its television assets, especially the ESPN sports network, as cable subscriptions continue to fall. However, Disney's value increasingly comes from its popular content, and staying on the cutting edge in creating and expanding hit blockbuster franchises has been a big moneymaker for the House of Mouse. That should continue for the foreseeable future.