Boeing, Lockheed team on bomber bid

Boeing and Lockheed Martin will team to bid on a new U.S. Air Force long-range bomber program, a multibillion-dollar project that Air Force officials have described as a top acquisition priority.

Boeing, which has played a role in every U.S. bomber program since World War II, would be the prime contractor on the next-generation bomber program, with Lockheed as its primary subcontractor, the companies said Friday.

The Air Force has said it plans to buy as many as 100 new bombers for no more than $550 million each.

The Air Force had no immediate comment on the pact between the companies. Its estimate of $550 million a plane reflects only the procurement cost of the new weapons, not the cost of developing the plane or construction of new hangars.

Northrop Grumman, maker of the B-2 stealth bomber, is also expected to compete to build the new long-range strike bomber, a program that’s expected to reap billions of dollars of revenue for the winning bidder.

Northrop spokesman Randy Belote declined to comment on the Boeing-Lockheed teaming agreement but said his company viewed the bomber program as “vital to both national security and the power projection capability of the U.S. Air Force.”

The teaming agreement brings together the Pentagon’s two largest suppliers: Lockheed, ranked No. 1, and Boeing, the second-largest, which some analysts said would present stiff competition for Northrop.

— Reuters

Tech firm earnings drive market rally

Strong third-quarter results from technology companies drove investors into stocks Friday, giving the market its third straight weekly gain.

After reporting results that topped expectations, Microsoft rose 6 percent, and rose 9.4 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index hit a record. The Nasdaq is the highest it has been in 13 years.

The continued economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve has helped investors brush aside a few warning signs about the market. Stocks look fully priced by some measures comparing them to earnings, for instance. And revenue growth is slowing. Revenue for S&P 500 companies is expected to grow just 2 percent for 2013, half the growth of the year before.

Economic news Friday suggested that they may struggle to increase sales for a while.

The U.S. government reported that orders for long-lasting factory goods, excluding aircraft and military-related products, fell 1.1 percent. Also, the University of Michigan said its index of U.S. consumer sentiment fell in October as concern grew that the partial government shutdown this month and the political fight over the nation’s borrowing limit would slow growth.

The Dow rose 61.07 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 15,570.28. The S&P 500 rose 7.70 points, 0.4 percent, to 1759.77. The S&P also closed at a record high Tuesday.

The Nasdaq composite rose 14.40 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3943.36. That was its highest close since September 2000.

— Associated Press

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