This morning the Department of Labor released its weekly jobless-claims report, and the numbers were better than analysts had expected. After a big jump to 388,000 claims two weeks ago, only 346,000 individuals sought support last week week, whereas economists were expecting the figure to drop to 365,000. The four-week moving average actually rose by 3,000, to 358,000, and while the report was better than expected, the number of jobless claims remains heightened.
Despite the report, the markets are moving higher today. As of 12:55 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.03%) is up 64 points, or 0.43%, while the S&P 500 has risen 0.41%. The NASDAQ has struggled today, but it's currently about a point north of breakeven.
The main cause for the NASDAQ's sluggishness is a report by the IDC indicating that in the first quarter of 2013, personal-computer shipments fell by 13.9%. Analysts had forecast a decline of 7.7%, and some had felt even that was too harsh an outlook. The reality, however, makes that forecast look downright rosy. This quarterly decline also marked the fourth consecutive year-over-year decline in shipments, and many believe this trend will continue.
The report has caused a number of PC-related stocks to fall today. Because it is easily the industry leader when it comes to PC chips and receives much of its revenue from PC sales, Intel (INTC -0.86%) has seen its stock drop 2.7% today.
Shares of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ -3.02%) have fallen 6.5% today. The dogged company's turnaround had seemed to be proceeding smoothly, but today's report is a major blow to HP's hopes. HP makes a sizable chunk of its revenue from the sale of PCs, and if that part of its business falls apart, the whole turnaround story may crumble as well.
Lastly, shares of Microsoft (MSFT -0.23%) have also bombed today, down 4.9%. The IDC report confirms that new PCs are not selling, and therefore Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows 8, is likely performing even worse than thought. Prior to the launch of Windows 8, a number of industry experts believed that new operating system would help move new computers, and many computer manufacturers had pinned their hopes on the success of the software.