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Sun Microsystems shares fall in afternoon trading

Stock falls as low as 13 percent in afternoon trading, as investors await word of whether an IBM merger is a go, or no go.

Sun Microsystems shares fell as low as about 13 percent Monday afternoon, steeper than the declines experienced by the broader markets. Investors, who are awaiting word on whether speculation of an IBM merger will become a reality, apparently were spooked, sending shares as low as $6.82 a share in afternoon trading.

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Shares of Sun lost 59 cents to close at $7.24, down about 7.5 percent, Monday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, meanwhile, fell as low as about 4 percent to 7,437.59 during intra-day trading and the Nasdaq dipped about 4 percent to 1,484.98. The Dow and Nasdaq were each down about 3 percent at the close.

While it's not immediately clear what may have spooked Sun investors, it is clear that IBM has an interest in migrating Sun's customers from Sun's SPARC architecture to IBM servers based on an x86 chip architecture, according to IBM BladeCenter Vice President Alex Yost, in a recent interview with Brooke Crothers, who writes CNET's Nanotech: The Circuits Blog.

Yost noted in that interview that a number of IBM customers are seeking to use Sun's Solaris operating system on x86-based servers or Linux on x86 servers.

In a more limited fashion, some of Big Blue's customers have a special requirement to use Solaris on Sun's SPARC architecture, Yost noted in that report.