Boeing Mulls Hiking 737 Production on Increased Demand

Boeing Co is considering whether it has the capacity to boost the production rate of its hot-selling 737 to 42 aircraft per month, beyond its newest target of 38, the company's chief financial officer said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a J.P. Morgan conference, James Bell said Boeing also would assess customers' fleet needs to make that decision.

"We'll take all that into consideration and just see after we get to the 38 if 42 or beyond is appropriate," Bell said.

Boeing said in September it would increase production of the narrow-body to 38 per month in the second quarter of 2013.

Bell repeated Boeing was still deciding whether to redesign its 737 or put a new engine in the current model to deliver greater fuel efficiency. He said the company would make a decision this year.

Bell also said demand for wide-body models -- the 777 and the 747 -- was picking up.

Boeing's business is split between defense and commercial aircraft, although its shares generally track the commercial side.

Boeing shares were up 35 cents at $72.20 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Kyle Peterson; editing by Andre Grenon)