The stock market saw a lot of movement early Wednesday as investors continued to respond to rapidly changing conditions in the escalating military conflict between the U.S. and Iran. Investors have tried to remain calm about the geopolitical flare-up, but it remains unclear whether the White House will seek to de-escalate the situation or react aggressively to missile attacks against U.S. military installations in Iraq. After jumping sharply near the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was down a single point to 28,582 as of 11 a.m. EST. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) picked up 2 points to 3,239, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) was up a fraction of a point to 9,069.
Among individual stocks, Boeing (NYSE:BA) faced another potential crisis of confidence after a crash of one of its planes. Meanwhile, Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) gave investors an earnings report that raised as many questions as it answered.
Boeing suffers another crash
Shares of Boeing were down almost 2% after news overnight that one of its planes had crashed in Iran. The jet being a different model from the MAX planes that have generated so much controversy lately, investors fear the broader reputational damage the crash could create.
The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft crashed shortly after it took off from the Iranian capital of Tehran, headed for Kiev, the capital of the carrier's home country. Iranian news sources are saying that technical problems contributed to the crash. All 180 passengers and crew are reportedly dead.
Given the poor state of relations between the U.S. and Iran, it could be a lot harder than usual to get reliable details about the crash and its possible cause. That could further complicate Boeing's handling of the accident.
With Boeing already facing heightened scrutiny over the two crashes of its 737 MAX model, the timing of the accident couldn't be worse for the defense and aerospace giant. It'll now take even more work for Boeing to restore global confidence in its fleet going forward.
Walgreens needs a sick day
Elsewhere, shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance were down 6% following the drugstore chain's release of fiscal first-quarter results. Although the company reported sales growth, pressure on the bottom line raised new worries about its future prospects.
Walgreens said that revenue was higher by 1.6% year over year, but higher costs weighed on earnings per share, which were down 6% from the previous year's period on an adjusted basis. Some of the negative impact on operating income stemmed from Walgreens' acquisition of stores from Rite Aid as well as the implementation of a cost-cutting program.
Responding to what he called "a soft first quarter," CEO Stefano Pessina assured investors that it's on the right strategic pathway toward long-term success. Despite requiring some one-time charges, the cost-cutting program could reduce annual spending by $1.8 billion by fiscal 2022. Moreover, the company remains excited about its agreements with McKesson and Kroger on initiatives designed to improve its operational performance.
Nevertheless, Walgreens has struggled lately, and as it was one of the worst performers in the Dow Jones Industrials in 2019, there's a lot of pressure on the drugstore chain to recover. If that turnaround doesn't come quickly, more share-price declines could easily follow.