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(Corrects company name in headline to "ARIAD Pharma" from "ARIA Pharma") (For faster updates on individual market-movers, Eikon users please use search string "STXBZ US"; for the Day Ahead newsletter, link.reuters.com/mex49s; for the Morning News Call newsletter, link.reuters.com/nex49s)
U.S. stocks rose at the open on Thursday as data pointed to a strengthening economy that appeared likely to overcome the impact of a steep drop in oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.59 percent at 17,637.34, the S&P 500 was up 0.80 percent at 2,042.45 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.90 percent at 4,725.97.
** STAPLES INC, $16.07, +8.47 pct
** OFFICE DEPOT INC, $7.48, +11.23 pct
Activist investor Starboard Value LP disclosed a 5.1 percent stake in Staples and raised its holdings in Office Depot to about 10 percent, possibly setting the stage for a merger of the struggling office-supply retailers.
** WET SEAL INC, $0.108, -61.28 pct
The women's apparel retailer said on Wednesday it may seek to restructure under provisions of the bankruptcy code if it fails to address liquidity in the near term. The company said strategies may include out-of-court restructurings. Wet Seal also reported a 9 percent decline in third quarter sales.
** LAKELAND INDUSTRIES INC, $10.82, -7.99 pct
The hazmat suit maker's third-quarter loss widened as operating expenses rose, driven primarily by higher freight out and commissions expenses. The company said on Wednesday that the main impact from Ebola-related orders will begin to be realized only in the fourth quarter.
** NEWLINK GENETICS CORP, $35.56, -3.58 pct
** MERCK & CO INC, $59.99, +0.77 pct
A clinical trial of an Ebola vaccine developed by Merck and NewLink has been halted temporarily as a precautionary measure after four patients complained of joint pains, the University of Geneva Hospital said on Thursday.
** ARIAD PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $6.84, -2.56 pct
Analysts at Credit Suisse downgrade the drugmaker's stock to "underperform" from "neutral" and cut their price target to $6 from $8, according to Benzinga.com (bit.ly/1Dgk4Et)
** METHODE ELECTRONICS INC, $42.79, +2.86 pct
The electronic component maker reported second-quarter profit and revenue above analysts' average estimate, helped by higher demand from its power products and automotive customers.
** HD SUPPLY HOLDINGS INC, $27.6, -2.23 pct
About 40.7 million shares are being sold by stockholders of the maintenance services provider including Carlyle Group and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC, HD Supply's second and third-largest investors.
** DELTA AIR LINES, $47.87, +3.57 pct
The airline operator said it expects fuel costs at current market prices to benefit 2015 profit by $1.7 billion.
** NIELSEN NV, $42.99, -1.78 pct
The TV rating service provider said affiliates of Blackstone Group, Thomas H Lee Partners, Hellman & Friedman and AlpInvest Partners plan to sell 20 million shares in a secondary offering. The offering represents about 5 percent of Nielsen's total outstanding shares, according to Thomson Reuters data.
** RADIOSHACK CORP, $0.5002, -9.05 pct
The struggling electronics retailer said it expected its cost cutting to save more than $400 million annually but did not say when that would be achieved.
** RESTORATION HARDWARE HOLDINGS INC, $94.1, +9.19 pct
The home furnishing retailer raised its full-year profit and revenue forecasts on better-than-expected third-quarter results due to higher direct sales, including online and catalog sales.
** LULULEMON ATHLETICA INC, $50.9, +8.99 pct
The Canadian yogawear chain reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as online sales jumped 27 percent. The company, which is facing increased competition in a niche market it once dominated while grappling with executive departures and lawsuits, marginally raised its adjusted profit forecast to $1.74-$1.78 per share from $1.72-$1.77 for the year ending early February.
** CENOVUS ENERGY INC , $18.08, -1.46 pct
Canada's No. 2 independent oil producer said it plans to reduce capital spending by about 15 percent in 2015 as oil prices plunge.
** FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES NV , $11.3, -1.48 pct
Shares in the company fell on Thursday as traders said investors were selling the stock after buying a bond that converts into shares. The car maker priced a $2.5 billion mandatory convertible bond due in 2016, as well as an offering of 87 million shares at $11 dollar each.
** EBAY INC, $56.27, +1.81 pct
The online retailer is mulling a plan to cut thousands of jobs early next year, as it readies to spin off its PayPal unit, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the company's thinking.
** RADIAN GROUP INC, $17.2, +1.84 pct
** ASSURED GUARANTY LTD, $26.32, +3.22 pct
The biggest U.S. private mortgage insurer is close to a sale of its financial guaranty business to Assured Guaranty for around $800 million, according to people familiar with the matter.
** AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP INC, $55.27, +0.78 pct
** PRUDENTIAL FINANCIAL INC, $87.23, +0.98 pct
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill giving big insurance companies such as American International Group and Prudential Financial relief from part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank oversight law.
** WALGREEN CO, $71.09, +4.31 pct
Walgreen said Chief Executive Greg Wasson would retire and hand the reins on an interim basis to the head of Alliance Boots Holdings Ltd, a move that follows a series of events that has tested investor confidence in the U.S. drugstore chain.
** BURGER KING, $35.12, +1.44 pct
** TIM HORTONS INC , $85.06, +0.46 pct
The fast food chain will avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. taxes if, as planned, it completes its pending buyout of Canadian coffee-and-doughnuts chain Tim Hortons, a tax activist group said on Thursday.
** SANOFI SA , $46.46, +1.31 pct
Sanofi's new CEO will continue its strategy of diversifying beyond new drug development, possibly through acquisitions, the French drugmaker's interim chief executive said.
** ALIBABA GROUP HOLDING LTD, $105.47, +1.53 pct
The Chinese mobile chat app firm, backed by Alibaba Group, that will list on the Nasdaq on Thursday, said its chief executive will fight allegations of misconduct and corruption made by his former employer. (Compiled by Lehar Maan in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings)