Stocks Slip on Oil Patch

Stocks finished modestly lower Wednesday after a rally on hopes for a rate cut from the Federal Reserve next week came undone after crude oil hit $80 a barrel for the first time.

Also of no help to stock market bulls was Texas Instruments’ admission that it will merely meet estimates for the current quarter. After bullish comments from the likes of Intel and Ericsson earlier in the week, investors had hoped for more from the chip maker.

Apple edged higher on upbeat comments from a couple of analysts, and Synaptics gained after Bear Stearns said Apple is using the company’s touchpad technology in its iPods.

VMware rose 2% on a Caris & Co. upgrade, but a Caris buy rating was little help for parent company EMC , which ended fractionally lower.

Cognizant gained on a Bernstein upgrade, while Macrovision plunged on a Jeffries downgrade.

SanDisk , Nvidia and Lam Research also weighed on the tech sector, as recession fears continued to compete with hopes for quick Federal Reserve action.

The Nasdaq gave up 5 to 2592, the S&P 500 was unchanged at 1471, and the Dow slipped 16 to 13,291. Volume declined to 2.9 billion shares on the NYSE, but rose to 1.93 billion on the Nasdaq. Declining issues led by an 18-14 margin on the NYSE, and 17-12 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 56% on the NYSE, and 57% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 70-109 on the NYSE, and 88-92 on the Nasdaq.

Note: The Technical Analysis column is on a brief hiatus and will return shortly.

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