Despite the announcement that jobless claims hit a two-month high last week, the markets surged higher today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) rose higher by 169 points, or 1.11%, and set a new all-time closing high at 15,460. The S&P 500 increased by slightly more, up 1.36%, while the NASDAQ beat the other major indexes as it climbed higher by 1.63% today.
At first glance, the poor jobless claims number, which came in at 360,000 last week, may actually have helped push the markets higher, as it may keep the Federal Reserve from slowing its stimulus programs for just a little while longer. But, regardless of the jobs market, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told reporters yesterday after the markets closed that the central bank's quantitative easing programs would be in place for the foreseeable future. That comment, and others similar to it from the Chairman, is what investors were reacting to today, and why stocks moved higher. In fact, every single one of the Dow's 30 components actually ended in the black. Now, let's take a look at a few of the big winners.
Shares of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) increased by 1.74% today, despite news that it was no longer the world's No. 1 PC company. According to Gartner, China's Lenovo is now the company that sells the most PCs. But, the No. 1 spot may not be what HP wants to be, because the industry is shrinking. Furthermore, the IDC also reported today that global PC shipments fell 11% during the second quarter of the year, which marked the fifth straight quarterly decline.
The good news from the IDC report for Hewlett-Packard and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) was that economists had been expecting a much worse performance in which PC sales would have declined by 13.9%. Additionally for Hewlett-Packard, Meg Whitman, the company's CEO, has stated that she wants to move the technology firm from being so reliant on the PC market, as it may likely continue to fall during the coming years.
As for Intel, shares rose 3.18% today, making it the best-performing Dow component of the day. The better than expected news from the IDC surely helped give the company a boost today, and may be a sign that the slowing PC market is finally leveling out. Like Hewlett-Packard, Intel has been attempting to diversify its own offerings, as it has pushed into the mobile chip market in a big way over the past few months. Its chips will be in the newest Galaxy Tablet, which is a major accomplishment for Inte,l as it has really missed out on the mobile market to this point.
While shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) also had a wonderful day, rising 2.84%, not all of the increase can be attributed to the better-than-expected PC sales data. Some of it came as a result of the company announcing that it was changing its corporate structure. In an effort to allow better, faster innovation, and operate more efficiently, Microsoft will no longer be structured as a number of different business units that all operate individually and independently from each other, but will now be more of a single business with the same goals and projects.
My colleague Travis Hoium noted earlier today, that it will take years to determine if the transition was a smart move or not, but it certainly seems today that shareholders like the move.
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