Chip Stocks Stay Under Pressure

Chip stocks stayed under pressure Thursday on worries about rising inventories amid a slowing economy.

The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index lost 1.4%, following a 3% drop Wednesday on a Bank of America sector downgrade. The index has tumbled 22% since mid-October on slowdown fears.

Intel lost 2.7% and AMD another 5%, while Texas Instruments was down 2.2%. Intel has managed to buck the chip sector downtrend for the most part, its stock the Dow’s biggest gainer last year, but Bank of America worried that its fundamentals could erode too. Intel shares are down 8% this week after rising more than 30% last year.

AXT and Cymer fell on downgrades, while Intersil was up 3.5% on a UBS upgrade. Digital River and Ingram Micro also benefited from positive analyst comments.

Overstock shed 12% on news that co-founder and COO Jason Lindsey was stepping down, and Shutterfly and NetSuite were other big decliners.

Oracle was a big gainer, up 2.8%, while Dell fell by that much.

Network Appliance gained 2% on an acquisition.

The broader market traded mixed ahead of Friday’s monthly jobs report, as early gains evaporated amid slowdown and inflation concerns. Economists believe the job market had another subpar month in December and are expecting jobs growth of 70,000 for the month.

The Nasdaq fell 7 to 2602, the S&P was unchanged at 1447, and the Dow added 12 to 13,056. Volume rose to 3.43 billion shares on the NYSE, and declined to 1.98 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by an 18-15 margin on the NYSE, while decliners held an 18-10 edge on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 60% on the NYSE, and 53% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 61-309 on the NYSE, and 63-266 on the Nasdaq.

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