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Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Applied Materials, Inc. Report

was down 2.5% in midmorning after the chip-equipment sector was downgraded by several analysts who expressed doubts about future capital spending in the semiconductor industry. Among the firms lowering ratings or estimates for a slew of stocks were

Merrill Lynch




Salomon Smith Barney


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Among the stocks affected,

Electro Scientific

(ESIO) - Get Electro Scientific Industries, Inc. Report

touched 52-week low of $21.50 and was down 7.9%,


(KLAC) - Get KLA Corporation Report

was down 2.5% and



was down 2.8%.