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The rally in stocks is continuing today after a government report estimated that jobless figures were better than expected last week. With roughly an hour left in the trading session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is higher by 62 points, or 0.42%.
According to the Department of Labor -- click here for the official press release -- the number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the seven days ended April 6 dropped by 42,000 from the previous week to 346,000. Economists had expected the number of applications to come in at 360,000. This was a huge relief after last Friday's dismal report on March unemployment.
Alternatively, a report issued last night by market research firm IDC estimated that personal-computer shipments posted the "steepest decline ever in a single quarter." The company said worldwide PC shipments totaled 76.3 million units for the first three months of the year. That's down 13.9% from the same time period last year and much worse than the estimated decline of 7.7%.
"At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market," said an IDC executive.
Unsurprisingly, shares of the Dow's technology stocks are plunging on the news. At the time of writing, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) is down 6.9%, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) has fallen 4.8%, and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) is off 2.6%. All of these companies look to personal computers for huge portions of their revenue, and as such, they stand to lose more than most if the PC really is dead.
Earnings season is about to get into full swing after Alcoa kicked things off earlier this week. Two of the nation's largest banks by assets, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) and Wells Fargo, report first-quarter results tomorrow. Despite turmoil in the credit markets courtesy of Greece, which could effect JPMorgan more than most banks given its inordinate reliance on trading revenue, analysts expect these financial institutions to have earned record profits. An analysis by Bloomberg News, for example, predicts that the six largest lenders made a collective $20 billion during the quarter.
Is now the time to buy the banks?
With big finance firms still trading at deep discounts to their historic norms, investors everywhere are wondering if this is the new normal or if finance stocks are a screaming buy today. The answer depends on the company, so to help you figure out whether JPMorgan is a buy today, I invite you to read our premium research report on the company today. Click here now for instant access!