Boeing shares fall to lowest level in over 2 years


New York (AP) - Shares of aircraft maker Boeing Co. dropped to their lowest point in more than two years Wednesday amid concerns that aircraft orders could fall.

The Chicago-based company's stock has declined sharply from its all-time high last summer as the price of has oil soared. Increased fuel costs are putting severe pressure on airlines and air cargo companies, especially in the U.S., and some carriers have begun delaying delivery of planes as they struggle to control costs. In a note to investors, Jefferies & Co. analyst Howard Rubel noted that the aviation industry is at a turning point, and said Wall Street is starting to sell off shares of aerospace companies in anticipation of a possible downturn in orders within two to three years.

"Given that civil aircraft orders are at a peak and the War in Iraq is on the verge of winding down, the challenge for the aerospace and defense industry is to convert commercial backlogs into profits and to participate in an orderly modernization and replacement of military systems," Rubel wrote.

Investors also were responding to an article in The Wall Street Journal noting that high oil prices could prompt struggling airlines to cancel or postpone more of their orders for new planes.

AirTran Holdings Inc. late last month said it will put off buying 18 Boeing 737-700 planes for up to five years as it slows growth in response to high fuel costs. Other U.S. carriers have reshuffled plane orders and announced plans to take large numbers of older aircraft out of service altogether. Boeing shares dropped $4.76, or 6.4 percent, to $70.03 in afternoon trading. Earlier in the session, the stock fell to $69.76, its lowest point since January 2006.

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