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Last Week’s Big Dow Losers: The Boeing Company (BA), Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT)

Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (Dow Jones Indices:.DJI)‘s 10-day winning streak came to an end on Friday, the index still managed to gain more than 0.81% this past week. Over the past five trading sessions, the Dow added 117 points and now sits at 14,514. Of the 30 blue-chip stocks that make up the Dow, 20 moved higher this week, while 10 move lower.

The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA)

Before we hit the Dow losers, the index’s big winner of the week was The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA). Shares of the aircraft manufacturer gained 6.4% this past week. On Tuesday, people familiar with a deal not yet officially announced told Bloomberg that Ryanair Holdings plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:RYAAY) will be purchasing 170 of The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA)’s 737 jets. The purchase agreement is reportedly worth $15.1 billion to The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), and company officials will make the formal announcement sometime this coming week.

On Friday, The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) shareholders rejoiced once more when the company said the 787 Dreamliner could be approved to fly within weeks. The Federal Aviation Administration, which grounded the plane back in January after one jet caught fire on a runway and another made an emergency landing because of an overheating battery, has approved the 787 for test flights. The plane’s new battery insulation and safety features will certainly be put through the wringer during the trial flights, but if they pass, The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA)’s shares may fly higher than the jets the company builds.

The big losers
Shares of Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) stretched their weekly losing streak to six consecutive weeks, after the stock lost 1.85% over the past five trading days. While the company didn’t retain the title of biggest loser, it did manage to become the second worst-performing Dow stock this week. On Thursday, reports indicated that company employees were protesting job cuts that Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) has recently made.

European workers have been under stress for some time now as the region continues to struggle through a recession. The combination of constant job cuts, high unemployment rates, and austerity programs may push Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT)’s workers to the brink, if protests become strikes as an attempt to gain greater job security.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) received a number of troubling reports this week, with the result that shares fell more than 0.72% over the past five trading days. On Thursday, the IRS announced that 600,000 tax returns, which had claimed education credit, would be delayed up to six weeks. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) relies on having customers cash refund checks and then spend some of that money on large-ticket items during this time of the year, but that hasn’t been the case so far in 2013.

On Tuesday, a Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) executive reported that the company had cashed only $2.7 billion worth of tax returns, while in the past Wal-Mart would normally be closer to the $4 billion mark by this point. We all still remember the internal email from the Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) executive ranting about how poorly sales were shaping up in February. We’ll probably find out what the cause of the lower sales in the company’s next earning release, but I would bet that a lack of tax returns will be high on the excuse list.

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