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US Telecom Sector Lower; AT&T, Juniper Fall

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Telecommunications stocks mostly fell in Wednesday trades, following the broader U.S. market, with AT&T, Juniper Networks and Level 3 Communications among the top decliners.

AT&T dropped 1.4% one day after a solid third-quarter earnings report. The Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T has asked antitrust lawyers in Washington, D.C., about the prospects for winning regulatory approval of an acquisition of DirecTV or Dish Network.

Either satellite-television provider, however, could cost $30 billion to $40 billion to purchase. The steep price tag could cause some uncertainty among investors, the Journal reported.

Level 3 Communications, meanwhile, fell an additional 6% after a sharp loss on Tuesday amid concerns about the company's ability to integrate a string of recent acquisitions. Those problems hurt third-quarter results.

Elsewhere in the phone group, Verizon Communications lost more than 1% in value and Sprint Nextel slid 0.5%.

Among equipment makers, Juniper dropped more than 8% despite strong third-quarter earnings. Costs rose higher than analysts expected and the company's forecast may have been too conservative for investors.

Looking at key sector indexes, the Dow Jones Wilshire Fixed Line Telecommunications Index surrendered 1.5% to 1451 points.

Over the past year, the index has ranged from 1513 points to a low of 1161 points.

The Dow Jones Wilshire Telecommunications Equipment Index dropped an even sharper 2.2% to 7160.

Over the past year, the index had ranged from a high of 7590 points to a low of 5986 points.

-Jeffry Bartash; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires­

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Tags: juniper networks  sprint nextel  wall street journal  sharp  nextel  level 3  antitrust