Blame Microsoft for Tech Stocks Dragging on the Dow Today


The Dow Jones Industrial Average is having a fine day today, rising 76 points as of 1:45 p.m. EDT on a cheerful unemployment report. But this rosy performance was achieved despite a terrible fall for three of the Dow's four tech components.

Tech stocks scored an unfortunate hat trick by claiming the three worst performances on today's Dow. Hewlett-Packard has dropped 7%, Microsoft has lost 5% of its value, and Intel has taken a 2.7% haircut. No other Dow stock has plunged anywhere near as much. IBM was spared from this bloodbath, instead rising 0.3%.

Yes, there's a pattern here. The largest publicly traded builder of PC systems took the hardest hit, followed by the king of PC operating systems, and then the undisputed champ PC processors. The catalyst was a pair of catastrophic market reports on PC sales from sector analyst firms IDC and Gartner. Big Blue doesn't sell small systems anymore, which explains the lack of market backlash against that particular technology titan.

IDC's report said PC system shipments plunged 14% year over year in the first quarter, nearly twice as fast as the firm had expected. It's the fourth consecutive annualized unit drop, and PC sales haven't been this weak since 2009.

IDC placed much of the blame squarely on Microsoft's shoulders. Not only did the "radical changes" in Windows 8 fail to ignite PC sales the way Windows 7 did, but the fizzled launch also "appears to have slowed the market."

Gartner adds that weak system sales in the industrialized world can't be healed by strong shipments into developing markets. "Consumers are migrating content consumption from PCs to other connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones," the firm said. That trend seems to hold true everywhere you look these days.

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