Chip bellwether

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

was down 2.5% in early trading as the semiconductor group headed lower on new industry data and

analyst comments.

The

Semiconductor Industry Association

said chip sales fell 6% in the Americas and 3% worldwide from the third quarter to the fourth.

Credit Suisse First Boston

said inventory levels have worsened in recent months and may not shrink until the end of the second quarter.

Lehman Brothers

said "semiconductor revenue growth will decline into negative comparisons by mid-2001."

Rambus

(RMBS) - Get Report

was down 8.3%.

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

was down 5.2%. The

Semiconductor Index

(SOX)

was down 3.5%.