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Stocks Mixed As This Tech Leader Wins Analyst Praise Despite Soft Outlook | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

The major indexes were narrowly mixed Wednesday afternoon, trading in a narrow price range that saw only a few sectors make significant moves.

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The Nasdaq composite held to a minimal gain, while the S&P 500 eased 0.1% and the Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.3%. The Russell 2000 was up a fraction. All indexes held near new highs, and the Nasdaq inched up to another new high this morning before ceding some gains.

Dow component Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) fell to its 50-day moving average, which coincides with a 137.18 buy point the stock cleared in October. The medical products company now seeks support at that key level. Verizon (VZ) rose 2%. The company stands to gain more power if the Federal Communications Commission rolls back net-neutrality rules, which the commission said Tuesday will be voted on Dec. 14.

Volume was tracking below Tuesday’s levels at the same time of day. That’s not surprising on the eve of Thanksgiving, when many traders plan to take a four-day break. Winners led losers by a 9-7 ratio across the board.

Health care stocks led, with hospital, home care and drug wholesale industry groups flashing gains of more than 2%. But those industry groups rank low, and are lacking in leading stocks. The energy sector also led, after the price of oil rose 88 cents to $57.71 a barrel, off from a session high just above $58.

The weakest industry groups were spread among semiconductors, scientific equipment, automakers, RV makers, jewelry companies, plastics and other industries.

Salesforce.com (CRM) fell 1.7% in heavy trading after the company beat profit and sales expectations for the October-ended quarter but gave a profit guidance for the current quarter that disappointed. The stock, however, remains in a strong uptrend since its breakout past 98.32 on Oct. 20.

Despite the outlook, BMO Capital Markets, Royal Bank of Canada, Pivotal Research and SunTrust Banks raised their price targets on the stock. Canaccord Genuity analyst Richard Davis also raised his price target, to 130 from 120.

“With this quarterly print and guide … we do not know how anyone can reasonably argue that Salesforce is not one of, if not the, highest-quality software companies on the planet,” Davis wrote. He cited the company’s major deal with the Department of Homeland Security during the quarter, and the launch of its Financial Services Cloud business for banking.

Fastenal (FAST) cleared the 49.07 entry of a cup with handle. But volume was below average. Fastenal is in the building products industry group, which includes leaders such as Home Depot (HD) and Beacon Roofing Supply (BECN). A few other stocks in the group are forming bases. Home Depot is extended after a pullback to the 50-day moving average.

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