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Fidelity Continued to Lighten Its Tech Load in the Fourth Quarter

Many of the firm's funds let their sector weighting slip further.

As tech stocks folded in the fourth quarter,

Fidelity

fund managers weren't buying.

That's the upshot from the Boston fund behemoth's latest

Mutual Fund Guide

, released Wednesday. The guide lists each fund's top holdings and sector weightings through the end of last year. Judging from its data, most Fidelity managers -- generally known for their acumen at picking tech stocks -- let their funds' tech weightings drop either through inaction amid the decline in tech stocks or by selling.

In December, when the tech-laden

Nasdaq Composite Index

dropped nearly 4.9%, diversified Fidelity funds with a dropping tech weighing outnumbered gainers by a ratio of 4-to-1. Among the funds that lightened their tech load were the $93.1 billion

(FMAGX) - Get Fidelity Magellan Fund Report

Fidelity Magellan fund, the nation's largest fund, where tech stocks dropped from 21.5% to 19.5%, and the $40 billion

(FGRIX) - Get Fidelity Growth & Income Port Report

Fidelity Growth & Income fund, where the tech stake fell from 19.2% to 15.6%.

For comparison, tech stocks comprised 21.9% of the

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S&P 500

, a benchmark for many large-cap funds like these.

Fidelity managers, who may indeed be buying tech stocks today, don't discuss stocks with the media, but this cooling to tech is part of a

pattern. The Nasdaq fell more than 30% in the fourth quarter and, given their falling tech weightings, it doesn't look as if many Fidelity fund managers have been buying in the sector. Investors in Fidelity funds might be cheered to have slackening exposure to the battered sector, but for tech fans it's dreary news. Fidelity's reluctance to buy in the sector implies a negative view of its prospects.

Market observers obsess over Fidelity's moves, because with more than $600 billion in mutual funds, its fund managers' whims can move stock prices in a hurry. They can send prices south just as quickly if they sour on a sector.

Because the firm discloses only funds' top-10 holdings, it's difficult to discern what tech stocks have fallen from favor with managers. Data-storage titan

EMC

(EMC)

and server shop

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Sunworks, Inc. Report

both fell out of Magellan's top-10 holdings during the fourth quarter.

The

(FFTYX)

Fidelity Fifty fund, where manager John Muresianu has a relatively free hand, still has a 0% tech weighting. He removed his tech positions last spring after having almost 50% of the fund in tech stocks during 1999, his first year at the helm.