The stock market is up about 10 points, trying to find some buoyancy after yesterday’s big 400-point gain.
Traders credit two events for the quick market turnaround: Citi coming out and saying it actually made a profit during the last quarter and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announcing that the TARP bailout money was finally having a positive impact on U.S. financial institutions.
The market obviously took both events as good news.
"Until we stabilize the financial system, a sustainable economic recovery will remain out of reach," Bernanke said in prepared remarks.
If the financial system is put back in order, the U.S. economy could work its way out of recession "later this year" and experience "a period of growth" next year, Bernanke said.
"In the near term, governments around the world must continue to take forceful and, when appropriate, coordinated actions to restore financial market functioning and the flow of credit," he said.
On the technology side of the market, things still look very shaky.
Consider National Semiconductor, which announced today that it was laying off 26% of its workforce because of the continuing recession. Consider also, the charming remarks by National Semiconductor’s CEO in announcing the job cuts:
“While it’s horrible that people are out of jobs, I think it’s good for the nation long term; I think it’s good for this industry, the semiconductor industry; I think it’s good for the valley.” – National Semi CEO Brian Halla.
Easy for him to say – Halla still has a job, unlike 1,725 of his employees who he just laid off.
It hasn’t been a great month for the chip maker. National Semiconductor announced that third-quarter revenues that were down 31 percent from the previous quarter and 36 percent from the same period a year earlier. Shortly after that, Halla announced that National Semicondcutor would layoff more employees and close two global chip plants.
Strangely, perhaps, the market took the news in stride. National Semiconductor’s stock was down 20 cents, or 1.7%, to $11.50 in Wednesday morning trading.
Looking ahead, the news doesn’t get any better, and you have to think that could negatively impact National Semiconductor’s (NSM) stock price. For the fourth quarter, the company anticipates sales to fall by 5% to 10% sequentially as "the company's distribution channel continues to be negatively impacted by the weak economy."
That would result in revenues of $263 million to $278 million, below analysts' consensus expectations of $292.6 million.
In a company statement, National Semiconductor said it will cut about 850 positions in product lines, sales and marketing, manufacturing and support functions. Also, the company will close its assembly and test plant in Suzhou, China and its wafer fabrication plant in Arlington, Texas.
All is not lost at National Semiconductor, as far as shareholders are concerned. The company said its quarterly dividend would remain 8 cents per share and will be paid on April 14 to shareholders on record as of March 23.
So if you’re a National Semiconductor shareholder, you’ve got that going for you.
Not so much, if you’re part of the rank and file who just lost a job.