(For more market insights, including options activity, click on ; for the Day Ahead newsletter link.reuters.com/mex49s; for the Morning News Call newsletter, link.reuters.com/nex49s) U.S. stock indexes opened higher on Monday, putting the S&P 500 on track for a second straight advance, ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.87 percent at 16,465.21, the S&P 500 was up 0.89 percent at 1,874.16 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.29 percent at 4,209.451.
** BIOFUEL ENERGY CORP, $5.8962, +87.78 pct
Hedge fund manager David Einhorn and his affiliates unveiled a plan to take a controlling stake in the ethanol producer.
Einhorn already holds more than 35 percent of Biofuel Energy, mostly through his investment fund, Greenlight Capital Inc, according to a regulatory filing on Friday.
** PRANA BIOTECHNOLOGY LTD, $2.832, -71.28 pct
The company said its experimental drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease failed to meet the main goal of a mid-stage study in patients with a mild form of the condition.
** NORDION INC, $11.55, +10.95 pct
Sterigenics, a sterilization services provider owned by private equity firm GTCR LLC, has reached a deal to buy Canadian medical isotopes supplier Nordion for $727 million.
** UTI WORLDWIDE INC, $10.68, -5.15 pct
The logistics company reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss, hurt by weak demand for air freight as customers opt for slower, but cheaper, modes of shipping.
** CLEANTECH SOLUTIONS INTERNATIONAL INC, $6.3901, +17.68 pct
The company, which makes components for the solar and wind energy industries, reported a much higher profit for the fourth quarter, helped by lower costs. The net income rose to $2.1 million, or 60 cents per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, from $469,313, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier.
Cleantech also said it expected the Chinese government’s aggressive stance to curb pollution to have a positive impact on the company’s dyeing machine business.
** MOMENTA PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $11.93, -14.85 pct
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal filed by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd in a patent fight over top-selling multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, a move that could deter generic manufacturers from introducing cheaper versions onto the market as soon as May.
By agreeing to hear the case, the high court cast into doubt a July 2013 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in favor of two teams developing cheaper generic forms of Copaxone: one involving Novartis AG’s Sandoz Inc and Momenta and another involving Mylan Inc and Natco Pharma Ltd.
** CURIS INC, $2.88, +4.73 pct
The company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed it to resume testing its experimental cancer drug, lifting a November order halting enrolment in an early-stage trial.
** HALOZYME THERAPEUTICS INC, $12.59, +3.96 pct
The company said its U.S. FDA-approved drug, Hylenex, met the main goal in a trial testing its use as a pre-treatment in type 1 diabetes patients receiving continuous insulin infusions, compared to those who received no pre-treatment.
The trial’s results will be part of the data used to seek an update to the Hylenex label, the company said on Monday.
** MEDTRONIC INC, $61.51, +1.82 pct
A non-surgically implanted heart valve meant to delay open heart surgery in children with congenital heart defects worked well for all but a few patients during a year of follow-up observation, in line with favorable results seen in original clinical trials of the Medtronic product.
** BLACKBERRY LTD, $8.175, -2.79 pct
The company reported a smaller-than-expected loss on Friday as new chief executive John Chen slashed costs, but a 64 percent drop in revenue underscored the challenge Chen faces in turning around the struggling smartphone maker.
** NOVARTIS AG, $84.98, +4.15 pct
Novartis has ended a late-stage clinical trial of a chronic heart failure drug early, following strong interim results, giving the Swiss drugmaker a boost after recent setbacks to another heart failure medicine.
** EDWARDS LIFESCIENCES CORP, $74.97, +5.35 pct
The minimally invasive aortic heart valve replacement system from Edwards Lifesciences performed better than a rival product sold by Medtronic in the first head-to-head study of the two, according to data from a small German trial presented at a major heart meeting on Sunday.
** IAMGOLD CORP, $3.54, -2.48 pct
** SEABRIDGE GOLD, $7.06, -4.34 pct
** AURICO GOLD INC, $4.31, -3.15 pct
Gold was trading close to a six-week low and headed for its first monthly decline this year as growing optimism about the U.S. economy eroded investment interest and encouraged appetite for riskier assets.
** VIPSHOP HOLDINGS LTD, $147.202, +6.67 pct
Goldman Sachs raised its rating on the online discount retailer’s stock to “buy” from “neutral” as it expects customers to spend more time on the company’s site, resulting in higher sales in the first quarter.
The brokerage expects the retailer to grow share in China’s apparel market to 1.5 percent in 2016 from 1 percent now, translating into revenue of $6 billion by 2016.
“VIPS’ growing credibility as a leader in discount retail in China will allow it to introduce more global brands ...,” Goldman analysts said in a client note.
The asset manager announced the purchase of 8.9 million of its shares. The shares were purchased at an average price of $15.38 per share, totaling $137 million. The company has 269.8 million outstanding shares.
** BUILDERS FIRSTSOURCE INC, $9.06, +12.69 pct
Deutsche Bank, which upgraded the building products supplier’s stock to “buy” from “hold”, saying growth should continue in the South/Southwestern United States, where the company’s operations are primarily based.
Deutsche Bank said the company is also likely to see an added benefit from a more rational pricing. It raised its target price on the stock to $12 from $5.
** MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC, $23.51, +7.30 pct
At least three brokerages said they expect the memory chipmaker to post better-than-estimated second-quarter results, helped mainly by higher DRAM and NAND memory prices. The company reports second-quarter results on Thursday.
The biotechnology company said its experimental drug induced a sharp reduction of up to 64 percent in the level of triglycerides - a type of blood fat that increases the risk of heart disease - in a mid-stage trial in 28 patients.
This final data, presented at an American College of Cardiology meeting, follows an interim analysis of the study conducted last September, which had shown the drug resulted in a reduction of up to 75 percent in triglyceride levels.
** OXYGEN BIOTHERAPEUTICS INC, $5.56, +3.35 pct
The speciality pharmaceutical company said it received written confirmation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, lifting a clinical hold on its experimental brain injury drug.
Earlier this month, the FDA had lifted an order imposed in 2008 suspending trials of its drug Oxycyte. The FDA had communicated the order to the company during a conference call.
Oxycyte is an artificial red blood cell substitute whose main function is to carry oxygen, similar to haemoglobin.
** ECHO GLOBAL LOGISTICS INC, $18.3, +6.58 pct
** C.H. ROBINSON WORLDWIDE INC, $52.67, +3.50 pct
FBR Capital Markets & Co upgraded its rating on Echo Global and C.H. Robinson, citing a rapid rise in truckload spot market volumes and better pricing in the first quarter.
The brokerage upgraded Echo Global, a transportation and supply chain management services provider, to “outperform” and raised its price target on the stock to $20 from $17. FBR lifted its rating on the stock of C.H. Robinson, a third-party provider of freight transport, to “market perform” from “underperform”.
** GENERAL MOTORS CO, $34.71, -0.06 pct
The car maker approved ignition switches for cars that have been linked to 13 deaths, even though the parts did not appear to meet the company’s specifications, officials of Delphi Automotive told U.S. congressional investigators.
** GUANWEI RECYCLING CORP, $2.6699, -17.34 pct
The manufacturer of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and other recycled plastics products reported lower 2013 results, hurt by a decline in sales of LDPE.
** PGT INC $11.65, -3.56 pct
Analysts at Deutsche Bank cut their rating on shares of the maker of impact-resistant windows and doors to “hold” from “buy”, citing glass capacity issues.
** SWIFT TRANSPORTATION CO, $24.84, +5.03 pct
RBC Capital Markets raised its target price on the logistics company to $29 from $26 and reiterated its “outperform” rating, citing better efficiency from integration of the company’s recent acquisition of Central Refrigerated Transportation Inc, a truckload carrier specializing in temperature-controlled freight transportation. (Compiled by Abhirup Roy in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)