Meanwhile banks are also showing a magnifying glass to crushing pressures on the class formerly known as the middle class:
Boeing reports loss of 26 airplane orders
Boeing says it has lost orders for 26 planes in past month, including 15 for its new 787 model
The 787, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner, is made of many composite materials designed to make it lighter and more fuel-efficient than comparable planes already in the sky. Its development has been plagued by delays, and the first delivery is now scheduled for late this year to Japan's All Nippon Airways.
Through Tuesday, Boeing had received 28 orders for the 787 and 32 cancellations this year, according to the tally on its website.
Across its fleet of planes, Boeing has received 319 orders and 64 cancellations for a net increase of 255 so far this year, the tally showed.
The Chicago-based company's most popular plane remains the workhorse 737. Southwest Airlines Co.'s entire fleet is made up of 737s.
Ominous signs for banking fortunes
Johannesburg - In an inauspicious start to the reporting season, three out of South Africa's big four banks have failed to meet market expectations.
After Nedbank Group [JSE:NED} and Absa Group [JSE:ASA] reported disappointing interim figures earlier this week, Standard Bank Group [JSE:SBK] posted a trading update on Thursday advising investors its six-months earnings would be 6% to 12% higher than last year. This is below earlier expectations, with most market commentators having anticipated a 14% to 18% earnings increase.
Nedbank posted increased headline earnings of 8.2% on Tuesday, although its retail unit continued to bleed R115m. CEO Mike Brown indicated the bank was undertaking a strategic review of this division, which had contributed R1bn as recently as 2008.
On Wednesday, Absa reported a 1% increase in headline earnings.
Stephen Meintjes, head of research at stockbrokerage Imara SP Reid, was not particularly upbeat about the banking roups' performances.
He told Fin24.com that Absa had benefited from lower impairments on loans, "but no one's going to be lending much more in the rest of this year".
Low lending levels to corporates and consumers mean banks need to generate more of their revenue from investment banking and transactions, as opposed to interest on loans.
"The results are particularly disappointing given the fact that there is little sign of improvement in any of the major business segments," said Meintjes. "We now stand in a similar position to six months ago, with uncertainty still dogging the outlook for the sector.
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Look I know I said 'no hurricanes' up there, but keep an eye on a fella called 'Tropical Storm Colin'.