By Noel Randewich
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Global PC shipments, already hit by consumers' growing preferences for tablets and smartphones, are falling more than previously predicted due to weakness in China, according to market research firm IDC.
Slower February shipments in China caused by government budget cuts and other factors mean worldwide PC shipments could fall by a "double-digit" percentage in the first quarter, compared with a previous estimated decline of 7.7 percent, IDC said in a report on Monday.
For all of 2013, global PC shipments will probably fall between 1.8 percent and 2 percent, IDC analyst Loren Loverde told Reuters.
"Even getting to positive growth in the second half of 2013 will take some attractive new PC designs and more competitive pricing relative to tablets and other products," he said.
A handful of financial analysts have recently trimmed their forecasts for top PC chipmaker Intel Corp's first-quarter results because of concerns over weak PC sales.
In China, which accounts for more than a fifth of global PC shipments, government spending cuts and anti-corruption measures have added to the timing of Chinese New Year in reducing purchases of new PCs in February, according to IDC.
Earlier this month, IDC said 2013 global PC shipments would probably fall 1.3 percent, extending a 3.7 percent decline in 2012.
Intel, whose processors are used in 80 percent of PCs, has said it expects revenue between $12.2 billion and $13.2 billion in the March quarter, which it is due to report on April 16.
Analysts on average expect Intel's first-quarter revenue to be $12.69 billion, down about 6 percent from the December quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Shares of Intel were down 0.16 percent at $21.34 on Monday afternoon on the Nasdaq.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis and Marguerita Choy)