The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) charged higher Wednesday morning, up 0.47% at 9:45 a.m. EST. Positive coronavirus news could be contributing to the Dow's rally: Pfizer announced that its vaccine had a 95% success rate and two months of safety data, and that it expected the Food and Drug Administration to review the data in December. Pfizer plans to produce as many as 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021.
A strong performance from Boeing (NYSE:BA) helped push the Dow higher on Wednesday. Shares of the airplane manufacturer jumped after U.S. regulators lifted the order that grounded the 737 MAX. Meanwhile, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was down slightly after the company announced a cut to App Store commissions for small businesses.
The 737 MAX gets FAA approval
The Federal Aviation Administration announced on Tuesday that it had rescinded the order issued on 2019 that grounded all Boeing 737 MAX planes following two fatal crashes. The move comes 20 months into a comprehensive safety review process centered on the faulty flight control system responsible for the crashes.
It will still take some time for the planes to return to the skies. The FAA must approve revisions in the pilot training program for each U.S. airline operating the planes, and parked aircraft must undergo required maintenance. The FAA also issued an Airworthiness Directive that details what U.S. airlines must do before returning the planes to service. These steps include installing software updates, completing wire separation modifications, and conducting pilot training.
"These events and the lessons we have learned as a result have reshaped our company and further focused our attention on our core values of safety, quality and integrity," said Boeing CEO David Calhoun in a statement responding to the FAA's order.
Shares of Boeing were up about 3.7% soon after the market opened on Wednesday. The stock is still down around 33% since the start of the year, but it's been clawing its way higher since bottoming out in March.
Apple cuts App Store fees for small developers
Under fire for its App Store policies and fees, tech giant Apple announced a new App Store small business program on Wednesday. Under the program, which will launch on Jan. 1, developers that earned less than $1 million from all their apps in the previous year will pay a 15% commission to Apple. For developers exceeding this $1 million threshold, the standard 30% rate will still apply.
This move comes as Apple is being scrutinized by regulators around the world for potential antitrust violations. The App Store is the only way for users of iOS devices to acquire apps, and Apple forces developers to use its own payment system to process payments. Apple's policies prompted a legal battle with Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, earlier this year.
The commission reduction will affect the vast majority of developers using the App Store, according to Apple. The New York Times, citing estimates from app analytics company Sensor Tower, reported that while 98% of developers will benefit from the lower commission rate, these small developers account for less than 5% of total App Store revenue. In other words, this change from Apple is little more than a token gesture.
This small business program is unlikely to quiet the criticism Apple is receiving from large developers like Epic Games. It's also unlikely to lower the chances of the company facing antitrust lawsuits over its App Store policies. Shares of Apple were down about 0.25% soon after the market opened on Wednesday. The stock has gained more than 60% in 2020.