The stock market had a turbulent Thursday, as continued waves of optimism and pessimism about prospects for an eventual resolution of the fiscal cliff pushed the market in different directions throughout the day. Yet, for those willing to take a longer-term view, a fair amount of good economic news came out this morning, with a GDP revision upward, and a drop in jobless claims contributing to good cheer. By the close, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were up 37 points, with even stronger gains among broader benchmarks.
But several stocks posted substantial losses. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) was the biggest decliner in the Dow, falling almost 3%, as analysts cut earnings and revenue estimates on the stock. With weakness in notebook shipments, it appears that Intel's Ultrabook initiative isn't rescuing the company from the slowdown in PCs, and high inventory levels could force the semiconductor giant to cut prices, even as sales fall.
The other half of the once-dominant PC pair, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) , also had a decent-sized drop today, declining 1.5%. New data from NPD found that sales of Windows-based devices in the past month dropped 21% from the year-ago period, with notebook computers accounting for the bulk of the weakness. The failure of Windows 8 to drive huge sales gains throws a wrench in Microsoft's prospective results, and also in the game plans of Intel and plenty of other companies with big stakes in the PC arena.
Finally, Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) dropped nearly 1%. As pending home sales pushed to a five-year high, you'd think that Home Depot and rival Lowe's (NYSE: LOW ) would be celebrating. But, after setting a new 52-week high during today's session, Home Depot was arguably due for a bout of profit-taking in its nearly straight-up move over the past year.
Will tech tank?
Both Intel and Microsoft have had their troubles, and it's easy to blame everything on Microsoft's failure to keep up with operating-system developments throughout the industry. With all the confusion, if you want to know whether Microsoft's a buy, you could really use some guidance. That's exactly what you'll get from our brand-new premium report on Microsoft, in which our analyst explains the company's big opportunity and numerous challenges. He's also providing regular updates as key events occur, so make sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.