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Drugs Feeling Poorly as Investors Finding Their Way Back to Techville

Defensive issues were under pressure today as money jumped back into riskier stocks.

The American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index was down 2.2%, with just about every component moving to the downside.

Yesterday, IMS Health (RX) reported that sales of prescription drugs rose 15%, to $145.1 billion in 2000. Today, the stock has moved a little higher, gaining 0.7% to $26.84.

Pfizer (PFE) was the leader in annual U.S. sales, but today the stock was off 1.8% to $43.04. The company announced that it promoted Karen Katen, its current president of U.S. pharmaceuticals, to become the new president of its pharmaceuticals group and executive vice president of the entire company.

American Home Products (AHP) also shook up its leadership a bit, naming Robert Essner its chief executive. Essner will keep his current title of president. The stock was down 3.8% to $59.53.

Blue-chip drug stocks -- Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Merck (MRK) -- were contributing the most drag to the Dow .

Still maintaining its rally was the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index, up 6.9%.

Yesterday, the sector was boosted on feelings that chipmakers had been battered enough, and that they had hit a bottom. They jumped, with help from bargain hunters who shrugged off negative research notes.

Chipmakers gains were also helpful to the stocks of companies that use them, including the Nasdaq Telecommunications Index, 2.9% higher, and the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index, up 6.2%.

And software stocks were flying along with most of tech. In the past few weeks, software stocks got smothered as their customers issued warning after warning. Software giant Microsoft (MSFT) was rising 3.4% to $59.44.

Veritas Software (VRTS), which makes data management software, was bouncing 11.2% to $66.50 in spite of having its price target cut to $110 from $175 by Prudential Securities.

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