U.S. stocks moved deeper into record territory on Thursday, helped by an upbeat report on initial jobless claims – even as technology stocks struggled and Research In Motion Ltd. weighed on Canada's benchmark index.
The S&P 500 closed at 1593.37, up 5.64 points or 0.4 per cent, marking its fourth straight gain. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average closed at 14,865.14, up 62.90 points or 0.4 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,481.37, down 54.54 points or 0.4 per cent.
The moves follow a report showing that U.S. initial jobless claims for the period ended last week fell to 346,000, down from a revised 388,000 in the previous week – topping expectations for a far more modest decline and adding to optimism that the employment landscape continues to move in the right direction, despite Friday's disappointing monthly payrolls report.
Among some of the big moves in the Dow, Pfizer Inc. rose 2.4 per cent and Verizon Communications Inc. rose 1.3 per cent.
Technology stocks were the biggest drags after a report from IDC showed that personal computer shipments in the first quarter declined nearly 14 per cent – the biggest slump since IDC began tracking data in 1984.
Hewlett-Packard Co. fell 6.5 per cent and Microsoft Corp. fell 5 per cent.
In the case of Microsoft, its latest Windows operating system appears to have failed to revive interest in PCs, as more consumers shift to smartphones and tablets for their computing needs. As well, Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to "sell" from "neutral." Goldman also trimmed its target price on Microsoft to $27 (U.S.) from $30.
In Canada, technology stocks were also weak. Research In Motion Ltd. slid 7.4 per cent – its sharpest decline in about two months – after reports from ITG Investment Research and Detwiler Fenton & Co. pointed to a weak reception for the company's new Z10 smartphone, with many consumers returning their purchases.
In an emailed statement, RIM called the claims "absolutely false" and said that Z10 returns were better than expectations and in line with their other products.
Among key commodities, crude oil fell to $93.46 a barrel, down $1.18. Gold rose to $1,560.50 an ounce, up $1.70. Suncor Energy Inc. fell 1.5 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. rose 0.8 per cent.