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U.S. stocks were higher in early trading on Wednesday, after three sessions of declines, as housing data that showed new home sales jumped sharply in August.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.30 percent at 17,107.15, the S&P 500 was up 0.28 percent at 1,988.28 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.43 percent at 4,528.051.
** CITIZENS FINANCIAL GROUP INC, $22.18, +3.16 pct
** ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND, $11.82, +1.11 pct
Shares of Citizens Financial Group Inc, the U.S. unit of RBS, rose in their debut - the biggest U.S. offering by a bank since the financial crisis.
The listing got a lukewarm reception from investors, forcing RBS to cut the price of shares sold to $21.50 per share, below the expected range of $23-25.
** LIPOCINE INC, $7.292, +39.69 pct
The drug developer's treatment for low testosterone met the goals of a late-stage study. The company said it expects to file marketing application in second half of 2015.
** ATOSSA GENETICS INC, $1.37, -41.20 pct
The breast health testing company says U.S. health regulators denied marketing approval for its medical device, ForeCYTE Breast Aspirator, used to collect breast fluid for testing. It now plans to launch an alternative breast aspirator, FullCYTE Breast Aspirator, in the United States.
** ECHO THERAPEUTICS INC, $0.67, -41.47 pct
The medical device maker's shares were set to open at an all-time low after the company warned it may file for bankruptcy. The company has suspended product development and research and manufacturing programs to cut costs and warned that its current liquidity was not enough to fund operations beyond Sept. 30.
** ALLERGAN INC, $173.48, +2.54 pct
** ACTAVIS PLC, $245.22, +1.81 pct
** SALIX PHARMACEUTICALS LTD, $169.57, +0.24 pct
Actavis is in buyout talks with Salix, CNBC reported on Wednesday. Allergan has also been in talks with Salix as it tries to fend off an unwanted bid from Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc.
** VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $121.27, +4.59 pct
The company estimated third-quarter revenue above Street expectations and said it expects overall same-store organic growth to be more than 15 percent.
Valeant teamed up with activist-investor William Ackman in April to buy botox-maker Allergan.
** GREEN DOT CORP, $20.98, +11.48 pct
The debit card provider launched GoBank, a checking account product, exclusively at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
** GEVO INC, $0.3717, -13.56 pct
The renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected claims on two of its patents.
The company said it plans to appeal the decision with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and that the patents remain valid and enforceable during the appeal process.
** GASLOG PARTNERS LP, $30.8, -4.64 pct
The LNG carrier operator priced its offering of 4.5 million shares at $31 each, a 4 percent discount to their Tuesday close. It intends to use proceeds to fund previously announced acquisition from GasLog Ltd and prepay debt.
** BLACKBERRY LTD, $10.8225, +2.49 pct
The Canadian company launched an unconventional new smartphone dubbed the Passport on Wednesday as it embarked on what may be the most critical phase of its long turnaround push.
** GILEAD SCIENCES INC, $106.92, +1.45 pct
The company said its HIV tablet containing tenofovir alafenamide was found better than its approved drug, Stribild, in two mid-stage studies.
** MARTIN MIDSTREAM PARTNERS LP, $36.7, -4.70 pct
The oil and gas transportation company's offering of 3 million units was priced at $36.91 each, a 4.2 percent discount to stock's Tuesday closing. The offering represented 9.43 percent of the company's total outstanding shares.
** INOVIO PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $10.55, +7.98 pct
The vaccine developer said it would start testing its Ebola vaccine in humans with partner GeneOne Life Science Inc in the first half of 2015. The companies will look for third partner if early-stage studies of vaccine are successful.
** STARZ, $31.21, +5.51 pct
** TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY FOX INC, $34.35, +0.38 pct
Executives from the two companies met on Tuesday to discuss a possible acquisition of Starz, according to a Los Angeles Times report. (lat.ms/1tYL9pb)
** SMART & FINAL STORES INC, $12.84, +7.00 pct
The century-old food retailer at raised about $161.4 million, after its offering was priced at $12 per share, the low-end of its expected price range of $12-$14.
** ACORDA THERAPEUTICS INC, $35.01, +19.28 pct
The biotechnology company said it bought privately held Civitas Therapeutics for $525 million to gain access to a Parkinson's disease drug in late development.
** KB HOME, $16, -5.72 pct
** PULTEGROUP, $18.31, -0.54 pct
** TOLL BROTHERS, $32.22, -0.19 pct
KB Homes' third-quarter profit and revenue fall short of Wall Street's estimates as its sold fewer homes. The company said home deliveries were tempered by delays in construction schedules and customer mortgage loan closings.
Housing stocks were modestly lower on Wednesday, after paring earlier losses following data that showed new home sales jumped sharply in August. The PHLX Housing index was up 0.2 pct after earlier falling as much as 1.3 percent on the back of KB Home's results.
** GRAFTECH INTERNATIONAL LTD, $5.59, -23.21 pct
The graphite electrode maker cut its full-year EBITDA forecast, citing weakening graphite demand outside of U.S. and soft end-market consumer electronic product launches. It said it expects its operating margins to be hurt as it plans to reduce graphite electrode production rates due to lower shipments.
JPMorgan cut its price target on the stock to $5 from $6.
** MERRIMACK PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $7.87, +9.46 pct
The drug developer said it would partner with Baxter International Inc to develop and market its pancreatic cancer drug outside the United States. Merrimack would receive $100 million upfront payment from Baxter in the current quarter.
** BED BATH & BEYOND INC, $66.72, +6.43 pct
The home furnishings retailer reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue as increased discounting and promotions helped attract more shoppers to its stores.
Canaccord Genuity raised its price target on the stock to $66 from $62, while Suntrust Robinson raised to $80 from $75.
Morgan Stanley raised its target to $63 saying, "given low expectations, a relatively high short interest and yesterday's move lower on a downgrade, we believe the stock deserves to move higher."
** HOMEAWAY INC, $33.82, +2.08 pct
SunTrust Robinson started coverage of the vacation rentals company's stock with a 'buy' rating and price target of $40, in line with the median price target.
"We anticipate the vacation rental industry will continue to take share of the broader lodging segment due to several factors," SunTrust analysts said.
** ACCENTURE PLC, $78.46, -1.43 pct
The consulting and outsourcing company forecast first-quarter revenue largely below analysts' expectations as stiff competition from rivals hurt new contracts wins.
** STEELCASE INC, $17.02, +8.89 pct
The office furniture maker reported better-than-expected quarterly profit and sales on Tuesday as demand for its products rises in the Americas, its biggest market by sales. Revenue up nearly 4 pct at $786.7 million.
** PLUG POWER INC, $4.54, -0.87 pct
The fuel cell maker said M&T Bank had agreed to offer financing to customers to buy fuel cells and refueling stations and fund service agreements, according to report by Albany Business Review on Tuesday. (bit.ly/1mKHk6c)
** AAR CORP, $25.39, -9.32 pct
The company, which serves commercial aviation and government and defense markets, reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit and cut its full-year revenue and earnings forecast, saying "certain awards...now seem unlikely to materialize".
"Over the balance of the year, we expect lower results for our businesses that support the military's operational tempo," CEO David Storch said.
D.A. Davidson cut its price target on the stock to $32 from $36.
** STARBUCKS CORP, $74.975, +1.38 pct
The coffee chain plans to buy the 60.5 percent share of Starbucks Coffee Japan Ltd that it does not already own in a two-step deal valued at about $913.5 million. (Compiled by Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)