Strong economic data pushed stocks higher. The Dow closed up 31 at 26,267 on lighter trading volume.
Economic data today was good. Besides Disney’s Frozen II cleaning house and grossing over a billion at the box office, actual housing starts were up 3.2% in November outpacing guru expectations and adding to strength first seen in October. Industrial production also posted a 1.1% gain largely driven by a rebound in auto production as thousands of belted GM strikers got back to work. Industrial production in the auto space was up over 12% and almost every other category was up as well. Utilities posted strong energy production as did consumer goods and durable goods manufacturing. Miners were the only negative sector posting a 0.2% drop due to a slowdown in oil and gas well drilling activity.
The board of directors at Boeing decided yesterday that 737 Max production will be halted in January as FAA regulators pushed back against the company’s timeline to get the jet approved for flying. Workers on the Renton plant line will be assigned to other duties (like sweeping the streets of Renton) which include getting stored 737 aircraft ready for delivery if and when that date comes. Shares of Boeing were down in overnight trading but reversed higher and actually closed up in what you could describe as a “bad news is good news” scenario.
In late breaking news, a buddy of mine in Missoula sent word that Weyerhaeuser has announced it agreed to sell 630,000 acres of Montana timberland for $145 mill in cash to a private timberland investment company. Weyerhaeuser plans on keeping its three mills in Montana with no changes to operations. In terms of the timberland however I guess you could say this is a “cut out and get out” type of deal.