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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) took one step closer to a perfect week today, gaining 63 points or 0.4%, to finish at 14,865, as a number of strong retail reports helped boost investor confidence. Ross Stores, Rite Aid, and Zumiez all jumped 6% or more, pulling up the broader sector and the market as a whole, as investors seemed to be reassured that consumers were still spending despite the payroll tax increase, and concerns about sequestration. Tomorrow's official retail sales report could help confirm today's news.
A lower-than-expected initial unemployment claims report also helped push stocks higher. New jobless claims dropped to 346,000, from 388,000 the week before, perhaps proving that last week's spike was just a fluke.
Tech stocks, however, were down sharply, as a report from International Data Corp. showed that PC shipments globally dropped 14% in the first quarter, the worst quarterly drop since the research firm started tracking sales in 1994. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was the poorest performer of the three major indexes, moving up just 0.1%.
Not surprisingly, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) shares took the news, particularly hard, falling 6.5%. The report also showed that rival Lenovo gained market share, while HP and Dell dropped. Lenovo finished the quarter with a 14.7% share, just slightly behind HP, with 14.8%, according to Gartner. Microsoft and Intel were also off sharply as well, falling 4.4% and 2% respectively.
Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) was the biggest gainer on the Dow, a strong gainer for the second day in row, moving up 2.4% after the FDA called its new breast-cancer drug a "breakthrough" innovation. The FDA designation should help speed up the approval process for palbociclib, and comes at a time when Pfizer has been dealing with a patent cliff from the recent expiration of Lipitor.
The massive wave of mobile computing has done much to unseat the major players in the PC market, including venerable technology names like Hewlett-Packard. However, HP's rapidly shifting its strategy under the new leadership of CEO Meg Whitman. But does this make HP one of the least-appreciated turnaround stories on the market, or is this a minor blip on its road to irrelevance? The Motley Fool's technology analyst details exactly what investors need to know about HP in our new premium research report. Just click here now to get your copy today.