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TECH STOCKS: Apple, Chip Stocks Lead Techs Lower

By Benjamin Pimentel, MarketWatch SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Technology stocks slipped into the red Friday morning, as chip stocks and Apple Inc. shares retreated, offsetting gains in shares of Research In Motion Ltd. The Nasdaq Composite Index (RIXF) was down about 14 points at 3,081, while the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) was behind about 0.4%. Shares of Apple (AAPL) were down nearly 2% at $599.32. On Thursday, the Fair Labor Association, in which Apple is a member, announced that the company's manufacturing partner Foxconn had agreed to make significant changes to the way they operate factories in China. Major semiconductor shares were in the red, including Intel Corp. (INTC) , Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) and SanDisk Corp.(SNDK). The tech sector was also being weighed down by slumping software stocks, including Oracle Corp. (ORCL) , Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE) , (C) and Red Hat Inc. (RHT). Shares of Tibco Software Inc. (TIBX) were down more than 4% after the infrastructure software developer reported a jump in profit, but one that was not as impressive as in recent quarters. "The results were generally in line with expectations following several quarters of strong beats," BMO Capital analyst Karl Keirstead said in a note. "The total revenue growth guidance of 13% in fiscal second-quarter 2012 would be the first time in two years that growth would be below 20%; the 10% growth rate in the Americas was the lowest in over two years." On the upside, Research In Motion (RIMM) rose nearly 2% to $14 a day after the maker of the BlackBerry devices posted a loss and announced changes to its management team and board. However, some analysts saw the company still facing serious challenges, including stiffening competition from Apple. "We continue to be cautious on RIM as we believe the company's integrated strategy continues to greatly lag Apple's," Wedbush analyst Scott Sutherland said in a note. "While Apple is moving forward with iCloud and other connected devices, RIM continues to focus on its [operating system] and device upgrades in smartphones and tablets."

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