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TECH STOCKS: Tech Stocks Claim Quiet Gains Ahead Of Fed Report

By Rex Crum Technology stocks rose in early trading Wednesday during a mostly quiet session as the sector awaited the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index (RIXF) rose 13.6 points to 2,070, while the Morgan Stanley High Tech 35 Index (MSH) and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) were also in positive territory. Among tech stocks, gains came from Dell Inc. (DELL), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), IBM Corp. (IBM), Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN) and Intel Corp. (INTC). Much of the market waited for the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee, which is scheduled to give its latest decision on U.S. interest rates later in the day. While most of the tech sector rose, some notable decliners emerged. STEC Inc. (STEC) shares plunged $7.24, or more than 31%, to $16 after the maker of flash-memory storage and solid-state drives said that one of its top customers, EMC Corp. (EMC), would carry its 2009 inventory over into 2010. The EMC decision is seen as potentially harming STEC's first-quarter results next year and a sign that demand for product replacements could be slowing. Maxwell Technologies Inc. (MXWL), a maker of power-management technology products, saw its shares fall $2.13, or more than 11%, to $16.78 a share as analysts as Piper Jaffray cut their rating on the company's stock to underweight from neutral. However, analysts at Needham & Co. raised their rating on Maxwell to buy from hold following the company's third-quarter results and fourth-quarter outlook.

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