The markets have taken investors for a wobbly ride to close out the week today as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) has veered between gains and losses on an uneven day of trading. The blue-chip index was hanging just under breakeven as of 2:30 p.m. EDT, although the Dow's stocks split evenly between gainers and losers. Aerospace giant Boeing (NYSE:BA) was up 1.2% to lead the way to the upside, while General Electric (NYSE:GE) had dipped 0.5%. Let's catch up on what you need to know.
China's bad news keeps coming
Investors continue to feel uneasy about foreign matters -- from Crimea to China -- and the latter hasn't done much to help ease that sentiment this week. China's economic growth has slowed during the second decade of the 21st century, but it's more than just falling growth that's on the radar this week. Premier Li Keqiang cautioned yesterday that debt defaults likely could be coming for industrial companies drowning in debt as Beijing shies away from offering bailouts. It doesn't help indebted private-sector companies that Chinese factory production rose just 8.6% year over year in the first two months of 2014, an especially slow start for the country. While China's population and rising middle class still offer potential for investors, exercise caution when investing in this evolving new market.
Aerospace leader Boeing has long seen that potential in China, but it's another emerging market's possibilities that are kicking shares of this stock higher today. Boeing and rival Airbus (OTC:EADSY) today both raised their growth projections for India's aerospace market, expecting that the growth of the country's middle class in future years could see the demand for more than 1,000 new aircraft. Boeing specifically targeted a potential $205 billion market in India, with 1,600 new planes required over the next two decades.
Although India hasn't been the aerospace growth market that China has become lately, the world's second-most populous country offers huge potential. Reuters reported that Boeing is in talks with India's Jet Airways on a potential $5 billion deal for 737 MAX aircraft. If India can keep its own economy growing in future years and bolster a new wave of urbanization and middle class growth, Boeing, Airbus, and the aerospace sector as a whole will be poised to explode in the country.
Elsewhere around the Dow today, General Electric fell as investors digest the company's plans to spin off the credit card and consumer finance arm of GE Capital. GE, which hopes to gain $3.5 billion in the IPO of the company that will be known as Synchrony Financial, is looking to reduce its risk and reliance on its financial wing through the move. Despite GE's consumer finance business generating close to $2 billion in annual sales for the company, the conglomerate's industrial divisions have shown the most promise lately. So GE is looking to refocus around its core businesses. It's a smart strategy, as GE's aerospace division hopes to ride the same winds that are lifting Boeing. That unit and GE's oil and gas division have managed impressive growth lately, and focusing on keeping that growth going is GE's best chance at keeping investors happy in the long run.