Shares of Symantec and Veritas fell 7% each Thursday after analysts expressed skepticism about the company's proposed merger and concern about looming antivirus competition from Microsoft .

CS First Boston and Morgan Stanley downgraded shares of Symantec on concern about the company's ability to pull off the largest-ever software merger in the face of rising competition from Microsoft.

CSFB analyst Philip Winslow noted that Symantec faces an added drag because Veritas' core storage software market is growing at a slower rate.

"The combined product set in its present status does not form a truly holistic infrastructure management solution that offers comprehensive visibility across the IT infrastructure," Winslow said.

Friedman, Billings, Ramsey analysts sounded the only positive note of the day on Symantec, calling the sell-off an "overreaction" to the concerns.

Blue chips finally posted their first winning day of the year Thursday, but techs finished lower once again, as traders remained cautious ahead of Friday's December jobs report.

The Nasdaq lost 1 to 2090, the S&P 500 climbed 4 to 1187, and the Dow rose 25 to 10,622. Volume declined to 1.57 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.19 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 18-14 on the NYSE, while decliners held a slight edge on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 62% on the NYSE, and 43% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 36-16 on the NYSE, and 36-26 on the Nasdaq.

After the close, DoubleClick raised guidance, and Accenture beat estimates but warned. UTStarcom also warned, and Brocade said it will restate past results to include additional stock-based compensation.

During the day, Priceline gained 2.5% despite losing COO Mitch Truwit, who will become CEO of Cendant .

Emulex slipped despite raising guidance, while Open Text , Sunrise Telecom and Actuate climbed on their outlooks.

Lawson edged higher despite announcing an informal SEC investigation into the company's revenue recognition practices.

Overland fell 9% on a warning.

Western Wireless surged 15% on reports of a possible acquisition by Alltel .

TiVo rose 6% on a deal with Microsoft .

Bankrate jumped 11% on an upgrade.

National Semi edged higher on layoff plans.