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Hot Stock Minute: Dow to 15-Thou? Jobless Claims, Retail Sales

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

The could be poised to hit 15-thou. The index will begin today's session less than 200-points from that mark, having closed yesterday at an all-time high of 14,802. The S&P also hit a new record and the NASDAQ sits at a 12-year high. Year-to-date, the Dow has climbed 13%, the S&P is up 11.3% and the NASDAQ has risen 9.2%.

One thing that's likely to move markets today is weekly jobless claims. The Labor Department says there were 346,000 new claims filed last week. That's a drop of 42,000. It's also an encouraging sign following the monthly jobs report which showed just 88,000 new jobs create in March.

Forget "personal computer." PC might as well stand for "pretty cruddy." Sales of desktops and laptops were down 14% in the first quarter from a year ago. Microsoft(MSFT) is getting much of the blame. Research firm IDC says Windows 8 has failed to generate either sales or excitement. By the way, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is going to start making 7-inch versions of its Surface tablet. But just this morning Goldman downgraded the company to sell from neutral.

Microsoft is in fact one of the top companies this morning on Market Pulse, a measure of stock tweets. Also in the top 5, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) which has been down more than 5% in early trading on that PC report. And Pier 1 Imports (PIR) which jas just reported earnings. The company says it saw a 7.5% sales increase.


Yum Brands (YUM) is down several points in premarket trading. People in China are too chicken to eat at KFC right now. The outbreak of the bird flu is stirring fears about the safety of poultry products. China accounts for more than half of Yum's sales. Year-to-date the company has vastly underperformed the market. Yum has an 11-year streak of double-digit profit growth, but is now in danger of breaking that.

Facebook (FB) is flat this morning, but it rose more than 3.5% yesterday. Shares climbed on several pieces of good news including an official announcement from General Motors (GM) that it will resume advertising on the social network. Facebook has also announced a new tool to tailor ads better to its users. And the company has begun rolling-out enhancements to its "status update" feature. Facebook has underperformed since the start of the year. Shares are currently about $10 below their IPO price last spring.

Next up is Zumiez (ZUMZ), which has been up as much as 10% since the closing bell. The action-sports clothing company says sales in March were much better than expectations. Revenue was up more than 2%, when consensus was for a drop of more than 7%. Zumiez says it has had success raising prices without slowing sales. The company is well off its highs, which it hit last June, but has been making slow gains.

Finally, there's Apogee (APOG). Investors may want an apology. The stock has been looking sorry, down as much as 7% in extended trading. But keep this in mind: shares have been up 150-percent in the past year. Apogee makes glass products. It reported earnings yesterday afternoon, missing estimates of 17-cents by 2-cents. The company's full-year guidance was also at the lower end of forecasts.