Boeing CEO McNerney: Demand for commercial planes growing

CHICAGO, Tue May 15, 2012 – Global airlines are fundamentally healthy, and demand for new airplanes is growing, Boeing Co. CEO Jim McNerney said on Tuesday.

The planemaker is raking in orders from airlines around the world as they expand their fleets or upgrade to more fuel-efficient jets.

Speaking on a webcast of the company’s annual investor conference, McNerney said Boeing was on track to build 10 787 Dreamliners per month by the end of next year.

Some experts doubt the company can hit its production rate target for the light-weight, carbon-composite airplane that came to market last year after three years of development delays.

Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace and defense company, turned in a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit last month as it pulled in orders while accelerating production on all its commercial airplane programs.

Auto sales to drive aluminum demand – Novelis

NEW YORK, Thu May 3, 2012 – Novelis Inc.the world’s largest maker of aluminum sheet, said strong U.S. automotive sales this year would help drive U.S. demand for products using aluminum at a pace consistent with an expected 2 percent growth in U.S. gross domestic product.

“We look at the U.S. economy, all things considered, as stable and running at about a 2 percent GDP, maybe 2.5 percent. Nothing exciting, but still growing,” CEO Phil Martens told Reuters in a recent interview.

He projected global aluminum demand growth of 4 percent to 5 percent in each of the next five years, which would exceed U.S. demand growth.

In the United States, the aluminum chief was particularly upbeat about the automotive sector’s use of aluminum. He forecast that demand will grow dramatically over the next three to five years as the industry shifts to lighter materials to boost fuel efficiency and to reduce emissions.

“We’ve moved from let’s watch this, to let’s study it, we’re not sure what the scale will be but its going to exceed our expectations. Now we’re trying to figure out how to best support it long term,” he said of the movement toward more aluminum use by automakers.

Martens also assessed consumer buying patterns in the company’s two other main markets, saying beverage cans have been relatively stable for six months and consumer electronics demand continues to grow.

But he noted that U.S. consumers can be skittish.

“We still think the consumer in general has the ability to be scared. You have to be very cautious, because last year in the first half we were cruising along and then this debt ceiling debate came along and threw everyone for a loop,” the CEO said.

U.S. beef exports show craving continues despite mad cow

WASHINGTON, Thu May 3, 2012 – Major importers stepped up their purchases of U.S. beef last week despite the discovery of a case of mad cow disease in California, government data showed on Thursday.

Export sales of fresh, chilled or frozen muscle beef totaled 16,829 metric tons (18,551 tons) in the week ended April 26, up 8.8 percent from the previous week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Authorities reported the fourth U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, as the disease is known, on April 24. It was the first occurrence of the brain-wasting disease in the United States in six years.

The muted trade reaction suggested importers were comfortable with the safeguards enacted since the discovery of the first U.S. case in December 2003.

Beef exports sank 75 percent immediately after the disclosure of that first case as big customers, including then-top importer Japan, banned U.S. beef. The USDA reported net sales cancellations in five of the first six weeks following the news.

“This was not something out of the blue. We’ve had three others before and, realistically, countries that were going to react have done so before. Their officials are reasonably satisfied with the measures the U.S. takes to deal with the problem,” Dan Vaught of Vaught Futures Insights said.

“The only country that said it was going to ban U.S. beef was Indonesia, but they’re a very small importer,” he said.