Stocks Little Changed on Mixed Chip Sector

Stocks had their calmest day in six weeks on Monday, as traders showed uncertainty ahead of Tuesday’s presidential election and analysts debated the health of the chip sector.

The chip sector (PHI: SOX) slipped 1% despite an upgrade from Citi Investment analyst Glen Yeung, who said chip companies are well positioned to survive an economic downturn. He recommended Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA), Altera (NASDAQ: ALTR), STMicro (NYSE: STM) and Integrated Device Technology (NASDAQ: IDTI).

But cautious comments from IDC and Gartner took the wind out of an early rally in the sector, sending chip stocks lower by the close.

Still, the Nasdaq ended the day fractionally higher, with Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM), Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) and Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) posting gains of 5% or more.

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), Ciena (NASDAQ: CIEN) and Motorola (NYSE: MOT) lost ground on downgrades. Cisco will report its quarterly results after the close on Wednesday.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) slipped after an analyst predicted iPhone production cuts.

The broader market was little changed despite dismal auto sales and manufacturing reports. The Dow didn’t move 100 points in either direction for the first time in six weeks.

After the close, Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) were little changed on reports of a more limited advertising pact.

The Nasdaq rose 5 to 1726, the S&P slipped 2 to 966, and the Dow shed 5 to 9319. Volume declined to 4.56 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.84 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 19-15 margin on the NYSE, and 16-12 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 49% on the NYSE, and 51% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 8-65 on the NYSE, and 13-67 on the Nasdaq.

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