Micron Misses

Micron missed earnings and sales estimates after the close on Thursday, delivering a downer for a sector already sagging under concern about rising inventories.

Micron’s earnings of 8 cents a share were 6 cents below Wall Street estimates, and sales of $1.37 billion were up 8% but below $1.41 billion forecasts.

“Micron effectively executed its diversification strategy, resulting in strong financial performance for the year while strengthening its platform for future success,” CEO Steve Appleton said in a statement, referring to efforts to diversify away from the company’s core memory business into flash and other areas.

Investors sent Micron shares 5% lower in late trading.

The chip sector ended the day lower on a negative outlook for the chip equipment sector from Gartner.

Despite the weakness in the chip sector, the tech sector led another rally on Thursday, as traders ignored hawkish comments from Fed officials and rising oil prices to cheer strong retail sales. Friday morning will see the release of the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report.

Apple shares slipped on news that CEO Steve Jobs knew about favorable stock grants, but the company said no wrongdoing had been uncovered in its investigation.

3Com gained on takeover speculation.

Dobson Communications surged on strong subscriber growth.

Lightbridge jumped on restructuring plans.

Diodes , Intermec , Par and Ikanos fell on their guidance.

The Nasdaq gained 15 to 2306, the S&P 500 added 3 to 1353, and the Dow rose 16 to 11,866. Volume declined to 2.82 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.99 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 21-10 on the NYSE, and 21-9 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 63% on the NYSE, and 67% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 289-16 on the NYSE, and 169-57 on the Nasdaq.

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