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December 6, 2006    

US software sector declines

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by Elaine Frei

Wall Street was slightly lower at the middle of the session on Wednesday ahead of November’s employment numbers, due to be released on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.1 percent lower to 12,318.30, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.3 percent to 2,446.23 and the S&P 500 dropped 0.1 percent to 1,413.73. The small-cap Russell 2000 index held steady at 797.09.

The software sector was lower. Oracle dropped 4.6 percent to #$17.99 after Lehman Brothers told its clients to sell because Oracle might not meet expectations for the quarter. Novell was 5.4 percent lower to $5.99 after it reduced its guidance for its fiscal 2007.

A change in management did not help revive Yahoo, which is over 38 percent lower than it was in January. By midday, the internet company was down 1.9 percent to $26.92.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe fell 3.5 percent to $75.88 after Merrill Lynch downgraded the railroad operator from “buy” to “neutral. The broker pointed out that the railroad is nearing its target share price.

In the semiconductor sector, Novellus dropped 3.5 percent to $33.32 on a downgrade from “neutral” to “sell” from Goldman Sachs.

The pharmaceuticals sector was mixed. Merck fell 1.2 percent to $44.35 after it repeated its earnings outlook for this year. But Halozyme Therapeutics, a biotech drug developer, gained 56.5 percent to $4.46 on the announcement of a cooperation agreement with Roche.

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