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U.S. stocks were little changed on Tuesday, as conflict in the Middle East intensified to push the energy sector higher, offsetting declines in the healthcare space after the U.S. Treasury moved to curb "tax inversion" deals.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.16 percent at 17,144.35, the S&P 500 was down 0.11 percent at 1,992.11 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.04 percent at 4,529.657.
** NQ MOBILE INC, $6.51, +12.83 pct
The Chinese mobile security software maker's shares were the largest percentage gainer on the NYSE at midday on a report that the company was seeking an alternative to stay public even as it was evaluating Bison Capital Holding Co's go-private offer worth $9.80 per share. As of Aug. 29, 31.8 pct of the company's shares outstanding shares were sold short. (bit.ly/XUU3XV)
** ASTRAZENECA PLC, $71.83, -3.80 pct
** SHIRE PLC, $251.195, -1.99 pct
** ABBVIE, $57.68, -1.75 pct
** MEDTRONIC, $63.89, -3.17 pct
** PFIZER, $30.08, -0.33 pct
** COVIDIEN, $88.01, -2.64 pct
** MYLAN, $46.42, -0.24 pct
** BURGER KING WORLDWIDE, $30.61, -1.45 pct
** TIM HORTONS, $79.83, -0.39 pct
Moving against tax avoidance by corporations, the Obama administration took several actions on Monday to curb "inversion" deals that allow companies to escape high U.S. taxes by reincorporating abroad.
"This is a big impact and certainly it will put a cap on a lot of M&A or takeover activity," IG analyst Brenda Kelly said.
AstraZeneca's and Shire's stocks fell after the announcement, while the move could jeopardize an agreed deal for AbbVie to buy Shire for $55 billion and deter Pfizer from making another attempt to acquire AstraZeneca.
Medtronic, meanwhile, is working to close an inversion deal into Ireland with rival Covidien, while Mylan plans to buy certain of Abbott's drugs in developed markets outside the United States in another tax-cutting transaction.
Fast-food chain Burger King is also in the midst of inverting to Canada in a deal with Tim Hortons.
** NXT-ID INC, $2.98, +40.57 pct
The surge in the stock of the provider of biometric security for mobile phones continued on Tuesday, adding to the 54 percent jump on Monday. The stock had lost about a third of its value through Friday's close.
The company early on Monday said it recently completed an essential round of funding to support ramping of production of its chief product, Wocket.
** MECHEL OAO, $0.8222, -19.39 pct
The Russian steelmaker's U.S.-listed stock continued their fall on Tuesday after hitting a record-low on Monday following a Russian minister's comments that bankruptcy was the most likely scenario for the over-indebted company.
"We should probably admit the fact - if a company is bankrupt, it should be legally acknowledged," Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said of the company which has debts of $8.6 billion.
** CHINA FINANCE ONLINE CO LTD, $8.66, +21.80 pct
The Beijing-based provider of financial information and services entered into strategic partnership with Zhongshan Securities to integrate with its own web-based trading platform, "Securities Master," or "Zhengquantong," with Zhongshan Securities' trading and settlement system.
** ASCENA RETAIL GROUP INC, $13.89, -15.97 pct
At least two brokerages, including Piper Jaffray, cut their price targets on the apparel and accessories retailer. The company reported lower-than-expected quarterly profit and sales, hurt by lower demand for its Justice and Lane Bryant brands.
** T2 BIOSYSTEMS INC, $19.1499, +13.11 pct
The U.S. FDA allowed the medical device maker to market its first two products, T2Candida panel and T2dx device, used to detect yeast pathogens that cause sepsis. The devices can identify five common yeast pathogens from blood specimen within 3-5 hours, while traditional methods take six days or more.
** YAMANA GOLD INC, $6.65, +1.37 pct
** ELDORADO GOLD CORP, $7.04, +3.53 pct
** HARMONY GOLD MINING, $2.375, +1.06 pct
** AGNICO EAGLE MINES LTD, $30.3, +0.70 pct
** HECLA MINING CO, $2.7, +2.27 pct
** COEUR MINING INC, $5.85, +4.46 pct
** SILVER STANDARD RESOURCES INC, $6.5496, +3.80 pct
** ROYAL GOLD INC, $65.16, +1.72 pct
** RANDGOLD RESOURCES LTD, $70.75, +1.90 pct
Gold prices rose as dollar eases and U.S. air strikes add to global tension and safe-asset demand, sending U.S.-listed stocks of gold and silver miners up.
Spot gold XAU=, which rose as much as 1.6 percent to a session high of $1,234.80, was up 0.5 percent at $1,220.10 an ounce by 1422 GMT. It reached its lowest since Jan. 2 at $1,208.36 in the previous session.
Silver XAG= rose 0.3 percent to $17.75 an ounce after slipping to a four-year low of $17.30 on Monday.
** SALIX PHARMACEUTICALS LTD, $168.82, +5.62 pct
** ALLERGAN INC, $170.98, +2.93 pct
** VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $117.41, +0.97 pct
Allergan has revived discussions to buy Salix, but the exact status of the discussions between the two drugmakers could not be immediately established.
The botox maker is trying to seal a deal with Salix in order to fend off a $53 billion hostile offer from Valeant. Salix said in July it would merge with an Irish subsidiary of Cosmo Pharmaceuticals SpA in a so-called tax inversion.
Billionaire William Ackman-backed Pershing Square Capital Management said on Tuesday that it would sue Allergan if it went ahead with a deal to buy Salix.
** CARNIVAL CORP, $40.35, +0.02 pct
Shares of the world's largest cruise operator shares touched a more than three-year high of $42.29 before easing back a little after the company reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit and raised its full-year profit forecast as higher demand from Chinese holiday makers boosted ticket sales for cruises in Asia.
** CARMAX INC, $47.86, -9.37 pct
The largest used car retailer in the United States reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit as growth in comparable unit sales at its used-car lots slowed to a near halt, hurt by tighter lending norms that kept subprime customers at bay.
** REWALK ROBOTICS LTD, $32.86, +3.59 pct
The company, which makes robotic support devices for people with spinal injuries, said a major German insurer will now reimburse patients using the company's walking support system.
** CF INDUSTRIES, $271.73, +6.24 pct
Norway's Yara International is in talks with Chicago-based CF Industries about a possible merger of equals, the firms said, a deal that would create a fertilizer giant with market value over $27 billion.
** PEABODY ENERGY CORP, $13.01, +2.85 pct
The coal miner raised its third-quarter adjusted EBITDA outlook due to cost improvements and "strong" operating results. It also reported higher-than-expected results from the Western United States, improved performance from Australian met coal mines and continued cost reductions.
** CANADIAN SOLAR INC, $38.56, +2.55 pct
Canaccord Genuity analysts raised its price target on the solar panel maker's stock to $48 from $44 saying they were positive on the company's international project pipeline as they were better than those of company's Chinese peers.
Canadian Solar was likely to benefit from improving demand for solar panels and price stabilization, the analysts said.
** DICK'S SPORTING GOODS INC, $43.88, -1.37 pct
William Blair and Co cut its rating on the sporting goods retailer's stock to "market perform" from "outperform" citing increased competition from online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
** ALIBABA GROUP, $87.68, -2.46 pct
** YAHOO INC, $38.9822, +0.86 pct
Since touching a peak of $99.70 on Friday, Alibaba's stock has lost $24 billion in market value - a little more than 60 pct of the market capitalization of Yahoo Inc, which owns about 16 percent of Alibaba.
** PHILIPS, $31.24, +3.65 pct
The 120-year-old Dutch conglomerate said it will split into two, spinning off its lighting business to expand its higher-margin healthcare and consumer division.
It expects to save 100 million euros ($128.8 million) in 2015 and 200 million euros in 2016 from the new structure.
** TEKMIRA PHARMACEUTICALS CORP, $24.96, +5.72 pct
The Canadian drugmaker's Ebola drug shows promising signs after being administered to doctor infected with virus in West Africa, Nebraska Medical Center said.
The drug, code named TKM-Ebola, was authorized to be used by U.S. and Canadian regulators in patients with confirmed or suspected Ebola infection, and is among several experimental Ebola drugs to be tested in West Africa to fast track trials, global health charity Wellcome Trust said.
** SANGAMO BIOSCIENCES INC, $11.39, +5.76 pct
Jefferies & Co analysts started coverage on the drug developer's stock with a "buy" rating saying positive data on its experimental HIV treatment demonstrated the value of its drug development platform called "zinc finger protein technology".
** MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC, $31.201, +1.96 pct
Micron is expected to report good results on Thursday driven by strong DRAM pricing trends in the quarter, Pacific Crest Securities analyst, Monika Garg wrote in a note.
"PC DRAM pricing was up slightly in fiscal fourth quarter and NAND pricing also has started to stabilize, which benefits Micron," Garg said. DRAM is a memory chip used in personal computers, while NAND chips are used in smartphones and tablets.
** GENESIS ENERGY LP, $51.04, -3.73 pct
The pipeline company's offering of 4 million units was priced at $50.71 each, a 4.4 percent discount to Monday's closing price. The offering represents about 4.5 percent of total outstanding units as of Aug. 6
** GRUPO AVAL ACCIONES Y VALORES SA, $13.72, +1.63 pct
The Colombian banking group's IPO of 81.48 million ADSs was priced at $13.50 each, raising $1.1 billion.
** APPLE INC, $102.23, +1.16 pct
The iPhone 6 is in the final stages of review for approval, with results due shortly, a top Chinese government regulator said in an interview published by Tencent.
** SPECTRUM BRANDS HOLDINGS INC, $88.92, +2.85 pct
** PROCTER & GAMBLE CO, $84.78, -0.04 pct
P&G said it would sell the last of its pet food business to consumer products company Spectrum Brands as it focuses on more profitable lines such as Tide detergent, Gillette razors and Pampers diapers.
Brokerage CRT Capital raised its price target on Spectrum's stock to $95 from $92.
** SUPERNUS PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $8.24, +3.13 pct
The drug developer said it was exploring strategic opportunities including "transformative merger and acquisition transactions". (Compiled by Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)