US STOCKS-Dow, S&P hit record highs after drop in jobless claims

Last Updated: Thu, Apr 11, 2013 16:10 hrs

* PC shares slide after firm says PC sales plummeted in Q1

* Microsoft shares tumble after Goldman Sachs' ratings cut

* Jobless claims fall more than expected

* Dow up 0.4 pct, S&P up 0.4 pct, Nasdaq up 0.02 pct

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced on Thursday, with the Dow and the S&P 500 climbing to fresh all-time intraday highs in late morning trade after data showed jobless claims dropped more than expected.

Nevertheless, technology stocks were the day's underperformers, with tech blue chips such as Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard sharply lower after an industry report that showed shipments of personal computers had fallen significantly in the first quarter. Microsoft was also hit after Goldman Sachs cut its rating on the stock to "sell" from "neutral."

"It's not a good day for technology stocks, but overall, we are in a strong market," said Joe Bell, senior equity analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research, in Cincinnati.

"It's encouraging to see how the market starts off weak on a bit of natural profit taking, and then market participants instantly bid the market higher."

Boeing Co shares jumped 1.7 percent to $89.29, after hitting a 52-week high at $89.45, and ranked as the Dow's biggest gainer.

Providing relief to the market that was rattled last Friday by a much weaker-than-expected non-farm payrolls report, Thursday's data showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell much more than expected last week.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 56.02 points, or 0.38 percent, at 14,859.06. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 5.85 points, or 0.37 percent, at 1,593.58. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up just 0.50 of a point, or 0.02 percent, at 3,297.75.

The Dow reached a record intraday high at around 11:21 a.m., rising as high as 14,882.53. The S&P 500 quickly followed suit, touching an all-time intraday high of 1,597.35 at 11:27 a.m.

On Wednesday, both the Dow and the S&P 500 had climbed more than 1 percent to close at new record highs after three straight days of gains.

A leading tech tracking firm said personal computer sales plunged 14 percent in the first three months of the year, the biggest decline in two decades of keeping records, in a report released after Wednesday's closing bell.

Hewlett-Packard fell 6.1 percent to $20.96, Microsoft shed 4.9 percent to $28.79 and Intel lost 2.3 percent to $21.75 to rank among the biggest drags on both the Dow and the S&P 500. The S&P information technology sector index slipped 0.5 percent.

Shares of Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc surged 52 percent to $12.12, off a 52-week high at $12.24, after the drugmaker said data from an initial late-stage trial would be sufficient to file for approval for its experimental antipsychotic drug for Parkinson's disease patients. Acadia said it would not need to conduct an additional trial as it had planned earlier.

Other economic data showed import prices slipped 0.5 percent last month, in line with expectations, while export prices fell 0.4 percent, signaling inflation pressure remained tepid and would allow the Federal Reserve to continue with its current monetary policy.

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