The United States announced a massive order for Boeing jets from Indonesia's largest domestic airline, Lion Air, to be showcased as U.S. President Barack Obama winds up an Asia-Pacific tour.
The sale of 230 short-haul 737 jets, worth $21.7 billion, is the largest commercial order in Boeing's history, toppling a previous record set just days ago as the industry taps in to relentless demand in emerging economies.
Obama will attend a signing ceremony on Friday for the order, which the White House said would support more than 110,000 jobs at Boeing and suppliers across the United States.
The deal includes options for another 150 aircraft valued at $14 billion, bringing its potential total value to $35 billion.
This represents one of the largest trade deals between the United States and Indonesia in history, the White House said.
The White House is seeking to underline the U.S. jobs potential from Obama's efforts to increase engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, including trade with emerging powers in Southeast Asia.
Deals announced during the president's trip are expected to total more than $25 billion and could support 127,000 jobs.
NARROWING THE AIRBUS GAP
Under pressure to bring down a 9 percent U.S. unemployment rate, Obama is seeking to increase American exports to Asia-Pacific to offset weakness in Europe.
The order is a boost for Boeing's efforts to develop a revamped version of its best-selling 737 as it narrows a gap with a model produced by its European rival Airbus.
The deal includes 201 revamped 737 MAX aircraft, due to enter service in 2017, and 29 Next-Generation 737-900 extended range planes. The deal also includes purchase rights for an additional 150 aircraft.
Boeing shares rose as much as 1.5 percent on Thursday, but were down 0.6 percent at $65.96 in afternoon trading, compared with a 1.6 percent fall in the broad S&P 500 Index.
Boeing said the Lion Air order, when finalized, would be its largest ever by both dollar volume and total number of airplanes.
Alex Hamilton, managing director with EarlyBirdCapital in New York, said the strong order confirmed that the commercial aerospace sector was bouncing back despite a skittish global economy. He said he expected more airplane orders as oil prices top $100 a barrel.
The pace of the recovery is probably better than most would have expected, Hamilton said. The reason (airlines) are ordering these new aircraft is because of the technology and the need for fuel efficiency.
High oil prices are spurring orders worth billions for fuel-efficient aircraft, re-energizing the rivalry between Boeing and Airbus, the two biggest plane makers.
Oil prices fell on Thursday on worries about the European debt crisis. Brent crude was down $3.50 at $108.38 a barrel, while U.S. crude was $3.06 lower at $99.53.
The 737 MAX is an upgraded version of Boeing's best-selling 737 that will include new fuel-efficient engines and begin delivering in 2017. It is designed to compete with the Airbus A320neo in the narrowbody aircraft segment, which is expected to produce $2 trillion in sales over 20 years.
Boeing said this week that it had 700 provisional orders for the 737 MAX, which boasts new engines burning less fuel.
The deal marks the second time in a week that Boeing has broken its company record for commercial airplane deals after bagging an $18 billion order for 50 wide-body 777 jets from Emirates airline at the Dubai Air Show. [ID:nL5E7MF04C].
The Boeing 737 is the backbone of many airline fleets and helped drive the growth of the low-cost travel industry.
Airbus has been outselling Boeing this year after promising to upgrade its competing A320 family of aircraft, but is lagging behind Boeing in the market for bigger jets such as the 777.
Middle East and Asian travel demand is helping to prop up demand for aircraft despite concerns over the Western economy, helping to generate well over $30 billion of deals for Boeing and Airbus in the past week.
In other deals to be announced on the sidelines of an East Asia Summit on the Indonesian island of Bali, the White House announced Boeing had reached a $2.4 billion deal for Singapore Airlines to buy eight 777-300ER aircraft.
General Electric will sell 50 engines to Indonesia's Garuda Airlines in an agreement worth $1.3 billion.
In a $325 million deal presented as one of the largest defense procurements in Brunei's history, United Technologies Corp unit Sikorsky will supply 12 Black Hawk helicopters to the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Support Helicopter Project.
(Additional reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta and Tim Hepher in Dubai, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Lisa Von Ahn and Matthew Lewis)