Updated from 3:28 p.m. EDT

Semiconductor stocks helped lead the tech sector higher Thursday, boosted by an earnings beat from Fairchild Semiconductor International ( FCS) and an analyst upgrade for Micron Technology ( MU).

Fairchild Semiconductor shares rose 10.7% to $5.26 Thursday after the chipmaker reported first-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates. Fairchild swung to a loss of $51.1 million, or 41 cents per share, compared with a profit of $17.1 million, or 14 cents per share, for the same quarter in 2008. Excluding items, the adjusted loss was $40.1 million, or 32 cents per share, compared with an adjusted profit of $23.2 million, or 19 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2008. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a loss of 34 cents per share on $235.1 million in revenue. Fairchild said order rates improved during the first two weeks of the second quarter, allowing the company to increase its backlog.

Meanwhile, an analyst at Barclays updated Micron Technology from Equal Weight to Overweight, citing benefit from lower industry CapEx spending and a more constructive supply-side outlook. Shares of the company rose 10.7% to $4.98.

Elsewhere in the sector:

Texas Instruments ( TXN) rose 4.6% to $17.80.

Intel ( INTC) rose 1.7% to $15.89.

Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD) rose 3.8% to $3.57.

Qualcomm ( QCOM) rose 1.8% to $41.64.

Nvidia ( NVDA) rose 2.6% to $11.68.

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