Stocks post modest gain on Boeing profit report

NEW YORK — Stocks ended a choppy session with a moderate advance Wednesday after a better-than-expected profit report from Boeing Co. and a seesaw day in the energy markets.

Boeing, one of the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average, reported a 38 percent jump in first-quarter earnings. The airplane maker's results and stronger-than-anticipated forecasts from chip makers Broadcom Corp. and Anadigics Inc., appeared to buoy investor sentiment about the first-quarter earnings season.

The Dow rose 42.99, or 0.34 percent, to 12,763.22. The S&P 500 gained 3.99, or 0.29 percent, to 1,379.93. The Nasdaq composite index rose 28.27, or 1.19 percent, to 2,405.21.

Boeing's earnings soar, beat analysts' forecasts

CHICAGO — Aerospace giant Boeing Co. reported a better-than-expected 38 percent jump in its first-quarter earnings, as it improved efficiency and recorded more orders for its aircraft. The results sent Boeing shares to a two-month high.

The company said it earned $1.2 billion, or $1.62 per share, in the quarter ended March 31, compared with $877 million, or $1.13 per share, a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected Boeing to earn $1.35 per share in the latest quarter.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $16 billion from $15.37 billion in the first quarter of 2007.

Bank of America holders urge CEO to stop merger

CHARLOTTE — Bank of America Corp. shareholders pleaded Wednesday with the company's chief executive not to proceed with a $4 billion acquisition of distressed subprime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp.

Shareholders told CEO Ken Lewis at the Charlotte-based bank's annual meeting that they were concerned about the company's position in a weakened economy and bearing the brunt of a collapsed stock price.

Lewis acknowledged the housing crisis wasn't over but said Bank of America paid a fair price for Countrywide and continues to perform deep due diligence. "There is a great long-term value embedded in Countrywide's business," he said.

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Toyota takes global lead from GM in first quarter

DETROIT — Toyota Motor Corp. took the global sales lead from General Motors Corp. in the first quarter, capitalizing on growth in China and Europe as GM saw its North American sales drag down gains in other markets.

Toyota said Wednesday it sold 2.41 million vehicles in the January-March period compared with General Motors' 2.25 million, prompting one industry analyst to predict that 2008 would be the year Toyota unseats GM in global sales.

GM barely won the global sales race with Toyota last year, but Toyota overtook it as the world's top automaker as measured by global vehicle production in 2007.

Apple earnings increase 36 percent in quarter

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Apple Inc.'s fiscal second-quarter profit jumped 36 percent on blistering sales of Macintosh computers, but the company forecast lower-than-expected earnings and its stock price tumbled as much as 5 percent.

The company said it earned $1.05 billion, or $1.16 per share, in the quarter ended March 29, compared with $770 million, or 87 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected earnings of $1.07 a share in the latest quarter.