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Updated from 4:05 p.m. EST

Stocks ended modestly higher in a choppy session on Wednesday, amid lackluster trading volume and a smattering of bearish news from


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Toll Brothers

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and others.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average

gained 14.9 points to 8589, while the


rose 5.8 points to 1397. The

S&P 500

ended higher by 0.5 point at 905.

"There is a cautious tone to the market," said James Park, senior vice president of trading at Brean Murray Foster Securities. "Everything that went up came back in pretty quickly."

Participation in Wednesday's market was modest, with 1.24 billion shares changing hands on the

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New York Stock Exchange

and 1.2 billion shares in play on the Nasdaq.

Stocks capped a two-month long rally last week, and then sold off sharply on Monday. According to Tim Heekin, a trader at Thomas Weisel Partners, that may have been a near-term bottom for the market. "We think there is a good chance it was a low," he said. "But it is a wait-and-see thing."

On Tuesday, all three major indices rallied in the final hour to close up more than 1.2% apiece on sanguine comments on the economy from the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee.

In the tech sector, Intel Chairman Andy Grove reportedly said that it might be too early to forecast a rebound in the chip sector despite some positive signs for the industry. The chip giant's stock ended up 0.2% to $18.16 and was one of the most actively traded Nasdaq stocks.

The bad news wasn't limited to technology. Toll Brothers posted fourth-quarter earnings of 93 cents a share, surpassing expectations of 89 cents a share. But it released revenue estimates for 2003 that were lower than Wall Street's forecasts. Toll closed off 1.1% at $19.47.

Health insurer



disclosed a workforce reduction of 690 positions that will result in an after-tax charge of $30 million in the fourth quarter. The stock finished up 1.2% at $40.24.


Seagate Technology

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IPO priced late Tuesday at $12 a share, below the $13 to $15 range,

as enthusiasm for the year's largest tech offering ebbed. It lost 4.2% to $11.50 in its debut of trading.


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shares fell another 2.6% to $16.97 after falling 3.3% Tuesday as sales guidance came in at the low end of a previous range.

Optical networker


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closed down 2.6% at $5.18 after SG Cowen said that the run-up in its stock may have come too soon. The company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday.


Baxter International

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finished behind 6.3% at $28.78. The health-care products company announced after Tuesday's close that it plans to issue more stock to fund acquisitions.


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lowered its fourth-quarter earnings forecast to 72 cents to 76 cents a share, down from a 82-cent to 86-cent range. The consumer-products company's shares closed down 2.4% to $46.78.

Treasuries were lower, with the 10-year note losing 6/32 to yield 4.02%. Overseas, London's FTSE 100 was up 1.3% to 3974.9, while Germany's Xetra DAX was down 1.1% to 3202.12. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei lost 0.9% to 8728, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.7% to 9784.