Hewlett-Packard Co's personal computer shipments grew 5.3 percent in the third quarter, while China's Lenovo overtook Dell to become the world's No. 2 PC maker for the first time, Gartner data showed.

HP -- which is scrambling to decide whether to sell, keep or spin off its PC division by the end of October -- now commands a 17.7 percent share of an ailing global market, up marginally from 17.3 percent a year ago, the tech research house said.

Wall Street analysts had speculated a premature announcement about the potential spinoff of its largest division would drive customers away.

Lenovo, aided by a laptop-sales tie-up with Japan's NEC and aggressive marketing, expanded its market share to 13.5 percent from 11.1 percent, eclipsing Dell's 11.6 percent.

PC sales are sputtering as consumers turn increasingly to mobile devices from smartphones to tablets like Apple Inc's iPad, while faltering economies pressure corporate spending on technology hardware.

U.S. PC shipments edged up just 1.1 percent to 17.8 million units in the third quarter. While anemic, that marked the first time shipments had grown in three straight quarters. HP notably expanded its shipments by 15.1 percent in its home market.

Despite the potential spinoff of its PC business, HP executives' efforts to give the appearance of 'business as usual' seemed to work, Gartner wrote in its statement.

Emerging markets -- such as Lenovo's backyard, China -- remain however a rare bright spot in an otherwise gloomy outlook.

The PC industry has been performing below normal seasonality, said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. As expected, back-to-school PC sales were disappointing in mature markets, confirming that the consumer PC market continues to be weak. The popularity of non-PC devices, including media tablets, such as the iPad and smartphones, took consumers' spending away from PCs.