NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Techs inched slightly higher Tuesday in light trading on the second to last day of the year.
The Nasdaq Composite rose 3.4 points, or 0.17 percent, to close at 2,009.88, its highest level in nearly two years. The Nasdaq has surged 50.6 percent in 2003.
Most large cap techs, however, were relatively flat Tuesday, as there was little news to move these stocks. Microsoft (MSFT: Research, Estimates), Oracle (ORCL: Research, Estimates) and Dell (DELL: Research, Estimates) each gained less than 1 percent while Intel (INTC: Research, Estimates) and Sun Microsystems (SUNW: Research, Estimates) fell less than 1 percent.
Two of the sector's biggest movers were in healthcare technology. Shares of Trinity Biotech (TRIB: Research, Estimates) surged for the second day in a row, gaining 20.4 percent. The Irish firm skyrocketed nearly 57 percent Monday after announcing that it received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market its HIV test in the United States.
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And shares of ChromaVision Medical Systems (CVSN: Research, Estimates) more than tripled after the company said that the FDA granted it permission to market its digital microscope technology for breast cancer screening. The Amex Biotech index, however, was essentially unchanged, gaining just 0.01 percent.
Satellite radio stocks also enjoyed their second consecutive day of gains. XM Satellite Radio (XMSR: Research, Estimates) rose 2.1 percent Tuesday while its smaller rival Sirius Satellite (SIRI: Research, Estimates) shot up 18 percent. Sirius was the most actively traded stock on the Nasdaq Tuesday, with 167.3 million shares trading hands, more than three times the stock's average daily volume.
It was also a good day for the beleaguered telecom sector. Shares of Baby Bell Qwest (Q: Research, Estimates) rose 4.25 percent while Verizon Communications (VZ: Research, Estimates) gained 2 percent. Wireless carriers AT&T Wireless (AWE: Research, Estimates) and Sprint PCS (PCS: Research, Estimates) increased 1.5 percent and 3.5 percent respectively. And Ubiquitel (UPCS: Research, Estimates), a regional wireless affiliate of Sprint PCS, surged 33 percent after the company raised its fourth-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) guidance.
Among the losers in techland, Micromuse (MUSE: Research, Estimates) slipped 1 percent. The business software developer said that it was investigating possible accounting irregularities and that restatements for the past four fiscal years were likely.
Several chip stocks also fell, even though research firm IDC said in a report that semiconductor sales should increase 18 percent in 2004. Shares of chip manufacturers Advanced Micro Devices (AMD: Research, Estimates), Broadcom (BRCM: Research, Estimates) and Maxim Integrated Products (MXIM: Research, Estimates) all fell more than 1 percent, as did chip equipment industry leader Applied Materials (AMAT: Research, Estimates). The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index slipped about 0.1 percent.