(Updates from 1:35 p.m. ET with closing information.)NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Technology became the worst-performing sector Thursday, weighing down the Nasdaq, after Microsoft's ( MSFT) Windows 8 was blamed for a deep contraction in global PC shipments. Market research firm IDC said Wednesday global PC shipments dropped 13.9% in the first quarter, the biggest plunge since the firm began monitoring the industry in 1994, driven by a shift in consumer spending to smartphones and tablets and accelerated by the tepid reception to Microsoft's latest version of Windows launched on Oct. 26. Microsoft has been downgraded by analysts at no less than three brokerage firms, with Goldman Sachs analyst Heather Bellini on Thursday cutting the software giant to sell from neutral and lowering the price target to $27 from $30, reflecting "worsening PC trends and a lack of traction in tablets and smartphones." Microsoft was dropping 5.04% to $28.75 in afternoon trading.
PC-giant Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) was tumbling 6.63% to $20.84. IDC said its worldwide shipments fell more than 23% year-on-year in the first quarter. Texas-based Dell ( DELL) was off 0.63% as IDC said its shipments fell by more than 10% globally. Other companies dependent on PC sales were also hit by the report. Intel ( INTC) was shedding 2.65% and Seagate Technology ( STX) and Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD) were giving up more than 4% Netflix ( NFLX) was a bright spot in the tech world, jumping 3.02% to $171.08 after getting some love this morning from Goldman Sachs as the investment bank raised its earnings estimates and price target on the movie provider citing improved subscriber growth and margin expansion.
Closing prices: MSFT ended the day down 4.5% at $28.93, HPQ fell 6.5% to $20.88 and DELL fell 1.2% to $14.04. INTC dropped 2% to $21.93, STX fell 3.1% to $36.53 and AMD was lower by 3.5% to $2.52. NFLX, however, bucked the trend and closed up 4.2% at $173.01. Written by Andrea Tse in New York >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.