The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 2% at 1:05 p.m. EDT Friday, rallying as investors anticipate the relaxing of social distancing measures in some states in the coming weeks. On Thursday, the Trump administration outlined guidelines for a phased reopening of the U.S. economy.
Daily cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States appear to be leveling off after a rapid rise since the beginning of March. The U.S. now has more than 670,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 33,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Boeing (NYSE:BA) led the Dow higher on Friday after the company announced a restart of production. Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) stock also jumped after the consumer goods company reported strong organic sales growth.
Boeing to resume production
Late Thursday, Boeing announced that it would resume production of commercial airplanes at its Puget Sound-region facilities in a phased approach starting next week. Operations were temporarily halted last month due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Shares of Boeing were up 12.8% by early afternoon on the news.
Boeing said that roughly 27,000 employees would return to production. Those working on the 737, 747, 767, and 777 will begin returning on April 20, while those working on the 787 will begin returning on April 23. Boeing has implemented various safety practices to keep employees safe, including staggered shift start times, markings and signage to encourage social distancing, and mandatory face coverings.
Demand for air travel amid the pandemic has fallen off a cliff, and it's unclear how long a full recovery will take. Order cancellations are becoming a problem for the company. On Friday, General Electric's aircraft leasing subsidiary canceled an order for 69 of Boeing's 737 Max planes, which are still grounded following two fatal crashes.
The market shook off that bad news on Friday, instead focusing on the production restart and optimism about the eventual reopening of the U.S. economy. Boeing stock is still down big since the pandemic began, more than 60% below its 52-week high.
Procter & Gamble reports strong sales growth
In North America and some European markets, Procter & Gamble saw strong demand for some of its products in the first three months of the year. The company reported organic sales growth of 6% in the fiscal third quarter, ahead of the 4.8% growth analysts were expecting.
The healthcare, fabric and home care, and baby, feminine, and family care categories were the strongest performers, posting organic sales growth of 9%, 10%, and 7%, respectively. Pandemic-driven demand in some markets was partially offset by lower volume in certain Asian markets, where consumers had limited access to retail markets.
Procter & Gamble reported total revenue of $17.2 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $1.17. While sales missed analyst estimates slightly, EPS was $0.04 better than expected. For 2020, Procter & Gamble now expects sales growth between 3% and 4%, down from a previous range of 4% to 5%. The change was due to foreign exchange headwinds.
The company maintained its outlook for organic sales growth of 4% to 5%, as well as its outlook for adjusted EPS growth of 11%. "Our organization has been doing a terrific job against our near-term priorities -- protecting the health and safety of each other, maximizing availability of P&G products to meet heightened consumer need and helping society meet and overcome the challenges of this crisis," said CEO David Taylor.
Shares of Procter & Gamble were up 1.5% by early afternoon. The stock is now down less than 4% from its 52-week high.