The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 2.18%) is barely moving today, down only 10 points, or 0.07%, by midafternoon. The lack of a direction from the market wasn't helped by the dip in homebuilder confidence. The National Association of Home Builders housing market reading sank to 46 this month, a 10-point drop from January. Anything below 50 emphasizes that homebuilders are more pessimistic about sales trends and other factors. It's possible that the results were affected by weather, and investors would be wise to watch the index trends going forward as the housing industry is vital to America's economy. With that in mind, here are some companies making headlines today.
Inside the Dow, Boeing (BA 2.03%) announced that its Everett, Wash., plant would produce its new composite wing for the 777X aircraft. The new wing center will be located north of the company's Everett factory and will sustain thousands of jobs for years to come, according to Boeing.
"Locating the new composite wing center in Everett is a win for all of our teammates and partners," Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner said in a press release. "This will put our workforce on the cutting edge of composite technology and allow us to build on the infrastructure and logistics system we have in Everett. This decision will strengthen the company's competitiveness and help it grow for the long term."
Boeing's selection of its Everett plant for the new wing program was all but official after the local branch of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers approved an eight-year contract extension.
For investors this is a positive development for two reasons. First, it sets the tone for Boeing's pension plans, as union workers under the new contract gave up their pension-style retirement plan for a 401(k)-style contribution plan. That will help bring down Boeing's long-term pension costs which have dragged down earnings. Second, it will also secure Everett's workforce, which is experienced with 777X production, rather than selecting another location where budget overruns and production delays would be more likely.
Outside the Dow, Tesla Motors (TSLA 7.67%) is gearing up for its fourth-quarter report tomorrow. While investors will focus on the usual metrics, such as the electric car maker's deliveries, production, and gross margin, there are a couple other nuggets of information to listen for.
Tesla's Model X crossover is expected to launch at the end of the year, although volume production won't take place until mid-to-late 2015; there should be additional guidance during this quarter's report. Obviously, investors are anxious to hear that everything is on schedule and that there is confidence in initial demand for the vehicle.
Another thing to listen for will be guidance on Tesla's battery factory. According to previous statements from CEO Elon Musk, investors should receive more details on the company's plans for the factory. Perhaps we'll get a shortlist of states vying for the factory and a rough timeline -- details that could be a strong driver of the stock price, as battery availability will be a major factor as Tesla introduces more vehicles into the marketplace.