On The Fly: Top stock stories at midday
Stocks opened higher and continued to tack on gains throughout the morning as the Dow works through its 11th triple digit point move in the past 12 sessions. Despite the market's advance today, it is currently experiencing the third longest period without new highs since 2013 as each round of rallying gets followed by a pullback, and vice versa. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., no data of note was reported. COMPANY NEWS: Shares of AveXis (AVXS) jumped after the gene therapy researcher announced an agreement to be acquired by Novartis (NVS) for $218 per share, or $8.7B in cash. Commenting on the acquisition, Jefferies analyst Michael Yee noted that Novartis' two large gene therapy deals in four months raises the question of "who's next." Among the mid-late stage gene therapy players remaining in the space are Regenxbio (RGNX), Bluebird Bio (BLUE), Spark Therapeutics (ONCE), BioMarin (BMRN), Abeona Therapeutics (ABEO), Nightstar Therapeutics (NITE) and Voyager Therapeutics (VYGR), Yee noted. MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Jounce Therapeutics (JNCE), which gained 19% following a Financial Times report that suggested the company and Agios Pharmaceuticals (AGIO) could be potential acquisition targets for Celgene (CELG). Also higher was Leucadia (LUK), which gained 12% after announcing strategic transactions involving several of its investee companies, a proposal to change the name of the corporation to Jefferies Financial Group, a new share buyback authorization and preliminary results for its first quarter 2018. Among the noteworthy losers was Menlo Therapeutics (MNLO), which dropped 72% after the company announced its Phase 2 clinical trial of serlopitant did not meet its primary or key secondary endpoints. Also lower were shares of Acadia Pharmaceuticals (ACAD), which fell over 24% after an investigative report from CNN raised questions about FDA data regarding the number of reported deaths seen among patients taking the Parkinson's drug Nuplazid. INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was up 359.88, or 1.5%, to 24,292.64 , the Nasdaq was up 154.50, or 2.23%, to 7,069.61, and the S&P 500 was up 42.76, or 1.64%, to 2,647.23.