After the

Nasdaq Composite Index closed yesterday near levels not seen since late May, with some 189 Nasdaq stocks at new 52-week lows, tech stocks galloped up at the open.

A strong report on global chip sales and some positive comments on tech stocks and on third- and fourth-quarter corporate profits from

Goldman Sachs

talking head Abby Joseph Cohen didn't hurt, either.

But tech stocks were unable to leave their slowdown worries behind. In an all too familiar pattern, the Nasdaq began to pare back its gains shortly after the open.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average was holding on to its early strength with a little more conviction, buoyed by bouncebacks in recent losers such as

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

and

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

, adding 10 and 9 points of upside, respectively.

Meanwhile, a morning report from the

Semiconductor Industry Association

this morning, which revealed record global semiconductor sales in August, initially gave substantial power to semiconductor stocks, but this strength was lately waning. A closer reading of the report reveals that while sales were up in dollar terms, total units sold fell. In other words, record sales may be wholly attributable to the strong dollar, while a drop in units would confirm worries of a slowdown in chip demand.

Concern over a slowdown in chip demand was exacerbated last month after

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

warned of an

earnings shortfall. The warning bulldozed Intel's share price and sharply pressured prices elsewhere in the semiconductor sector and throughout tech. Intel blamed weak European demand for its microchips.

Intel and

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

were lately up 2.2% and 2.4%.

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor

index was lately up 0.3%.

Xerox

(XRX) - Get Report

, off 18.4%, was the NYSE's most active stock after reporting post-close yesterday that it expects to see a third-quarter loss rather than a profit. The copier and printer manufacturer attributed the shortfall to weaker-than-expected sales in North America and Europe and heavy competition in all businesses. The

company reported that it anticipates a loss of 15 cents to 20 cents a share, compared with the analyst forecast of a 12 cent profit. Back in July, the company had warned of weakness in its second half. At that time, Wall Street lowered its consensus earnings estimate.

Corel

(CORL)

, meanwhile, was one of the Nasdaq's most actives on news that

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

will take a 24.6% stake in the company. Corel was lately up 53.4%.

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Sector Watch

Despite a new jump in crude oil prices overnight, oil stocks were falling, but the

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

was lately up fractionally, 0.03% higher, and the

American Stock Exchange Natural Gas Index

up 0.2%. Prices rose $1.28 to $32.12 overnight on fears that a hurricane off the Texas coast would damage offshore drills, continued reserve shortages and rising tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

Utilities, the year's biggest gainers, continued to climb, with the

Dow Jones Utility Average

up 0.5%.

Internet stocks were slipping, including Internet software company

BroadVision

(BVSN) - Get Report

, which was down some 6.9%, and

CMGI

(CMGI)

, lately off 4.2%.

Drug stocks continued a slid begun in recent days, with the

American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index

down 0.8%.

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Bonds/Economy

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note was lately down 1/32 to 99 12/32, and yielding 5.833%.

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