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TECH STOCKS: Micron, Red Hat Highlight Tech Retreat

By Benjamin Pimentel, MarketWatch SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Technology stocks showed few signs of putting the brakes on broad losses Thursday, as memory-chip maker Micron Technology Inc. and business-software firm Red Hat Inc. highlighted the sector's retreat, following the companies' disappointing quarterly reports. The results from the two underscores recent concerns over pricing in the memory-chip market, as well as the health of corporate information-technology spending. Micron (MU) shares fell 35 cents, or 5.6%, at $5.78 after the chip maker reported a loss, taking a hit from weak pricing for memory chips. Wedbush analyst Betsy Van Hees wrote that "in the near term, we think the stock will likely be rangebound until there is better visibility" on a number of factors. She cited supply-and-demand trends for NAND chips in the second half of the year, and the potential impact of the expected release of Ultrabook notebooks based on Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows 8 software on the personal-computer market. However, she also maintained an outperform rating, citing Micron's comments on a stronger second half of the year. ThinkEquity's Suji De Silva also kept a buy rating on Micron, saying in a note: "We believe [Micron] is experiencing firming demand across DRAM, where supply is tightening due to competitor financial issues, and broader end-market demand is stabilizing." Separately, Red Hat (RHT) shares gave up $3.17, or 5.6% at $53.33 after the software maker reported a weaker-than-expected outlook. Reacting to Red Hat's report, J.P. Morgan John DiFucci wrote: "We continue to remain cautious on global IT spending, especially in the coming months. That said, we believe the company continues to execute well against a weakening macro environment." Intel Corp. (INTC) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) also remained in the red as two of the worst performers on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. (DJI) The blue-chip index fell 101 points as investors reacted to economic data, including the June Philadelphia Fed index which came in below consensus. The Nasdaq Composite Index (RIXF) gave up 34 points, or more than 1%, at 2,895, and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) was off by more than 2%. Declines also came from Seagate Technology (STX), Western Digital Corp. (WDC), Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Netflix Inc. (NFLX) The few gainers that emerged included Facebook Inc.(FB), up 18 cents a share to $31.78 and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), up 45 cents a share to $223.47.

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