Stocks Hit New Highs as PC Makers Plummet

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"The market has slowly churned higher and continues to remain in a steady uptrend," said Schaeffer's Senior Equity Analyst Joe Bell. "The tech sector was a notable laggard today, though, after the International Data Corporation reported a big decline in first-quarter PC shipments." Despite this weak corner of the market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) was able to post yet another record high and trade above the breakeven mark for most of the day.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including :

plus...
  • The S&P 500 gets thisclose to 1,600, jobless claims surprise economists, and Tesla Motors ( TSLA ) speculators may be changing their tune.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average achieved another new all-time record today, reaching as high as 14,887.51 before settling at 14,865.14. For the day, the blue-chip index added 63 points, or 0.4%. Of the Dow's 30 components, 25 closed higher, with Pfizer ( PFE ) topping the charts with a gain of 2.4%. Severely lagging the pack were PC names Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ) and Microsoft ( MSFT ), which lost 6.5% and 4.4%, respectively.

It was another new high for the S&P 500 Index (SPX) as well, which gained 5.6 points on the day, or 0.4%, to close at 1,593.37, not far from its intraday peak of 1,597.35. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) lagged its peers, up just 2.9 points, or less than 0.1%, to settle at 3,300.16. Despite the weakness in the PC sector, the COMP did manage to notch another 12-year high of 3,306.95 on the day.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) declined, losing 0.1 point, or 1%, to close at 12.24 and bring its losing streak to four sessions.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take :

"This morning, the weekly jobless claims number came in better than expected and repositioned itself back below the 350,000 level we had grown accustomed to," summarized Bell. "Consumer discretionary and retail stocks performed quite well today, and retailers should take the headlines tomorrow, as March retail sales are set to be released."

3 Things to Know About Today's Market :

  • Initial jobless claims dropped by 42,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 346,000. This not only topped economists' projections by a healthy margin, but it marked the sharpest decline in the figure in roughly five months. (Reuters)
  • The computer hardware sector was not a fun place to be today, as names such as Hewlett-Packard Company ( HPQ ) declined sharply following disconcerting news about PC shipments. Sales dropped almost 14% last quarter (on a year-over-year basis), marking the worst decline since tracking began in 1994. (CNN Money)
  • Former KPMG partner Scott London and his friend are facing insider-trading charges from the Security Exchange Commission (SEC). London apparently disclosed private information about publicly held companies including Herbalife (HLF), in exchange for lavish gifts. (CNBC)

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today :

  1. Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) speculators targeted long-term gains .
  2. Call buying has been an increasingly popular strategy in the Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) options pits.
  3. Are bulls beginning to shy away from Tesla Motors ( TSLA )?
  4. Microsoft Corporation ( MSFT ) was downgraded in the wake of the lackluster PC sales news.
  5. Reacting to this same news, short-term put buyers targeted Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ) shares.

EARNINGS

For a look at today's options movers and commodities activity, head to page 2.

STOCKS - NOTABLE CALL ACTIVITY

STOCKS - NOTABLE PUT ACTIVITY

Commodities :

Oil settled lower today, snapping its three-day winning streak after the International Energy Agency lowered its demand forecast. By the close, May-dated crude futures had given back $1.13, or 1.2%, to finish at $93.51 per barrel.

Gold bounced higher after Wednesday's drubbing, due in part to a weakened U.S. dollar. June gold closed up $6.10, or 0.4%, at $1,564.90 per ounce.

SCHAEFFER'S MARKET POSTURE

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: HPQ , MSFT , PFE , TIF , TSLA

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