The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was trading 220 points lower, or 1.3%, by midafternoon after investors weighed U.S. unemployment claims and Chinese export data. Initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped 32,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 300,000. That was the lowest level in nearly seven years and indicates that job growth may be accelerating. That report, combined with positive employment data and better than expected automotive sales, is making investors optimistic for better growth in the second quarter.
With those trends in mind, here are some companies making headlines in the market.
Boeing (NYSE:BA) was by far the best-performing component of the Dow Jones last year. One of Boeing's biggest success stories in 2013 was the introduction of its 777X twin-aisle airplane which captured orders valued at $95 billion at list prices during the Dubai Airshow in November. Boeing's 777X will be the largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world and boasts 12% lower fuel consumption and 10% lower operating costs than its competition.
The 777X won't just be efficient in the sky, either. Just this week investors got a glimpse of how manufacturing of the 777X will offer a leap in production efficiency as well. According to the Seattle Times, Boeing plans to deploy innovative robotic assembly technology.
"We have a very robust plan to improve overall efficiency of 777 production and will discuss it publicly at the appropriate juncture," the newspaper quoted Boeing spokesman Doug Alder as saying.
While the plan details haven't been fully disclosed, it appears that the robots used in 777X production wouldn't be in a fixed location, but would instead move along the assembly line and possibly reduce the use of cranes. Each crane move is a major undertaking, and the current 777 production process uses about 39 crane moves each day. To put that in perspective, the newer 787 Dreamliner assembly line features roughly seven moves per day.
Cutting crane moves will provide a boost to production rates, and Boeing estimates its 777X output will surpass 100 airplanes per year. For investors, Boeing's ability to increase production rates will be key for the company to cash in on its massive backlog of orders and boost revenue.
Outside the Dow, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) continues to be one of the hottest stories on Wall Street. This month brings investors and onlookers a big event as Tesla kicks off deliveries of the Model S in the world's largest automotive market: China.
"We're going to be doing our first customer deliveries later this month. [CEO Elon Musk] is going to be doing that personally," Simon Sproule, Tesla's vice president of marketing and communications, told Bloomberg. "It's got huge potential."
By huge potential, he means China could quickly become Tesla's biggest market for its Model S. Earlier this year, Musk said sales in China could match U.S. volume as soon as next year. Still, investors would be wise to temper expectations at first as Tesla still has much work to do building out its supercharger infrastructure in China.