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.
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