The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 0.42% at 1:25 p.m. EST Thursday despite a worsening economic picture. The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits hit 885,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ended Dec. 12, up 23,000 from the previous week and higher than economists polled by Reuters had forecast.

Turning to individual stocks: Boeing (NYSE:BA) stock was down as the company reportedly took unusual steps to ensure the success of the 737 MAX; Nike (NYSE:NKE) stock rose after an analyst called it one of the best ideas for 2021; and International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) stock posted a small gain after CEO Arvind Krishna was elected to lead the board of directors.

A plane in flight above the clouds.

Image source: Getty Images.

Boeing hires pilots to help with 737 MAX return

Boeing's 737 MAX is poised to return to the skies after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration recently lifted the order that had grounded the plane for nearly two years. In an effort to avoid any issues, Boeing is reportedly shelling out $32 million to hire 160 pilots to embed at airlines.

According to Reuters' sources, these "global engagement pilots" will have 35-day assignments as either instructors or cockpit observers. In addition to hiring pilots, Boeing will monitor all 737 MAX flights and resolve issues as they arise, and it will provide talking points for flight attendants regarding the safety of the aircraft.

The successful return of the 737 MAX is critical for Boeing. The company expects the market for narrow-body airplanes like the MAX to drive the post-pandemic recovery, given that the planes are used for domestic and short-haul flights. Over the next 20 years, Boeing expects the majority of new airplane deliveries to be single-aisle planes.

Shares of Boeing were down about 1.4% by early Thursday afternoon. The stock remains down about 31% since the start of the year.

Analyst includes Nike among best ideas for 2021

Ahead of Nike's earnings report on Friday, Guggenheim singled out the footwear and apparel giant as one of its top ideas for 2021. The driving force behind the confidence is Nike's ongoing direct-to-consumer shift.

Guggenheim sees Nike as a digital-first company and believes this shift will lead to improvements in the company's financial performance going forward. During Nike's fiscal first quarter, the company reported an 82% rise in digital sales and a 12% jump in direct-to-consumer sales. Weakness at Nike's own stores partially offset the soaring digital sales growth.

Shares of Nike were up 1.4% following the positive analyst commentary. The stock currently trades near its all-time high, and it's up about 38% this year.

IBM CEO named chairman of the board

As previously announced, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna will take over from former CEO Virginia Rometty as chairman of the board of the century-old tech giant on Jan. 1. Krishna succeeded Rometty as CEO in April; Rometty will retire from the company on Dec. 31.

IBM's current strategy, which is focused on hybrid cloud-computing, artificial intelligence, and other growth areas, was put into place during Rometty's tenure. That transformation isn't complete, and it will be up to Krishna to see it through.

The $34 billion acquisition of software company Red Hat, completed before Krishna took the helm, was a big bet by IBM on hybrid cloud-computing. The planned spin-off of its $19 billion managed-infrastructure services business, announced earlier this year, will further concentrate IBM's resources on its best growth opportunities.

Shares of IBM were up about 0.3% by early Thursday afternoon, underperforming the broader market. IBM stock has done poorly this year, down about 6%.

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