The stock market has finally bounced off the bottom it set earlier this week, and early gains suggested that some key market benchmarks could enjoy a three-day winning streak for the first time since before the coronavirus-inspired bear market began. As the stimulus bill works its way through Congress, market participants seem optimistic that the provisions in the measure could help hard-hit businesses and individuals. As of 11 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 859 points to 22,060. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) rose 80 points to 2,556, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) was higher by 224 points at 7,608.
Earnings reports have continued to trickle in during the seasonally slow period of the quarter, and Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) offered a look at how the semiconductor space is doing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, retailers continue to suffer disruptions from the disease, and Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) said it would have to take additional measures to ensure the safety of its employees and customers.
Micron satisfies investors despite sales, profit declines
Shares of Micron Technology were up almost 4% Thursday morning as investors digested the semiconductor giant's fiscal second-quarter results. Although the numbers looked ugly on their face, they were still better than many had feared, and the company's outlook was still upbeat, even with coronavirus-related headwinds affecting its business.
Micron saw revenue drop 18% from year-ago levels, and that sent adjusted earnings per share down by nearly three-quarters year over year. However, Micron had warned that its numbers would likely be much weaker than they had been during the same period in 2019, and the actual results turned out to be better than anticipated.
Like many businesses, Micron started to see the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the middle of the fiscal quarter, and it has taken steps to minimize its exposure to the disease. By limiting employee travel and obtaining stockpiles of raw materials in advance, Micron hopes that it can keep from seeing the full brunt of COVID-19 on its factory floors and in its corporate offices.
It's too early to sound the all-clear for Micron, but CEO Sanjay Mehrotra expects a big global economic recovery for the tech industry once the coronavirus crisis passes. When that'll happen is uncertain, but strong data center demand should keep Micron healthy in the months to come.
Longer closures for Nordstrom
Meanwhile, shares of Nordstrom were down 3% Thursday morning. Investors have had to deal with a lot of bad news from the retail industry generally, and the upscale department store hasn't been immune from the negative effects of the coronavirus.
In a business update late Wednesday, Nordstrom said it would extend its temporary store closures for at least another week. That'll bring the projected last day of closure to April 5. The closure affects all the stores under the Nordstrom corporate umbrella, including both its full-price namesake locations and its off-price Nordstrom Rack stores. Along with the closures, Nordstrom extended paid leave for store employees an extra week and will pay benefits for the month of April.
The news comes after some investors hoped that the worst was over for Nordstrom. Earlier the company said it would suspend its dividend payments temporarily and stop making stock buybacks, with the goal of conserving cash for operational expenses. Drawing down on its lines of credit, Nordstrom sought to reassure shareholders that it has the liquidity to get through the crisis.
Few people are worried about Nordstrom's ability to survive the economic impacts of the coronavirus. Given all the challenges the retailer has faced even before the pandemic happened, though, it's understandable to see Nordstrom shareholders feeling as if they can't take another hit.