* Apple ranking drops to No.6 in China smartphone market
* Sirius sets long-awaited buyback, dividend
* Dow off 0.1 pct, S&P down 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.1 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Dec 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed
in choppy morning trading on Thursday as upbeat guidance from
Broadcom partially offset weakness in Apple shares, while
traders kept an eye on fiscal negotiations in Washington.
Extending Wednesday's 6.4 percent decline, Apple was trading
down 0.7 percent at $535 early on Thursday, after falling as
much as 3.7 percent at the open, which brought the market
capitalization of the world's largest publicly traded company
down to below $500 billion briefly. In September, it was
capitalized at a record $663 billion.
Broadcom shares led the advance in chip makers with
a 2.1 percent gain, one day after it forecast for fourth-quarter
revenue at the high end of its target range, citing slightly
better-than-expected sales in its mobile business.
The PHLX semiconductor index rose 0.4 percent.
Budget discussions continued to be a key focus for
investors. President Barack Obama said there could be a quick
deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" - tax hikes and spending cuts
set to begin next year, possibly driving the U.S. economy back
into recession - if Republican leaders agree to raise tax rates
for those making more than $250,000 a year.
While Republican leaders in the House of Representatives
insist that raising tax rates on the rich is a no-go, some GOP
lawmakers now see it as inevitable to avoid the fiscal cliff.
"There are no real triggers here. It is just positioning
going on for year-end, and this big decision" on the fiscal
cliff, said Rick Meckler, president of hedge fund LibertyView
Capital Management LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.
He said Apple's weakness was taking a toll on the market and
expects equities to continue trading choppily through the day.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 17.89 points,
or 0.14 percent, to 13,016.60. The S&P 500 dropped 1.78
points, or 0.13 percent, to 1,407.50. The Nasdaq Composite Index
gained 2.89 points, or 0.10 percent, to 2,976.59.
Apple Inc's rank in China's smartphone market fell
to No.6 in the third quarter as it faces tougher competition
from Chinese brands, research firm IDC said Thursday. Apple's
6.4 percent drop on Wednesday was its worst daily performance
since December 2008 and dragged down the Nasdaq Composite.
Shares of Apple were down 0.7 percent at $535, after earlier
falling more than 3 percent.
Sirius XM Radio shares rose 2.2 percent to $2.83
after its board approved a $2 billion stock repurchase and
issued a special dividend, giving a big payout to its largest
shareholder, Liberty Media.
Without action from Congress in coming weeks, tax cuts on
capital gains and dividends will expire at the end of 2012.
Garmin shares rose 5 percent to $41.71 after
Standard & Poor's said it would add the navigation device maker
to its S&P 500 index. Garmin will replace R.R. Donnelley & Sons
after the close of trading on Dec. 11.
Several European equity benchmark indexes hit 2012 highs,
boosted by hopes a U.S. budget deal will be reached before the
year-end, and that the worst of Europe's debt crisis might be