(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 0.56 percent at 16,414.38, the S&P 500 was up 0.58 percent at 1,868.42 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.92 percent at 4,193.869.
** BIOFUEL ENERGY CORP, $5.85, +86.31 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, $2.931, -70.27 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, $10.15, -9.86 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, $6.4, +17.86 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, $11.91, -14.99 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, $2.82, +2.55 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, $12.42, +2.56 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, $61.115, +1.17 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, $8.2078, -2.40 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.
** YAHOO INC, $36.24, +0.95 pct
Yahoo is working on a service similar to Google Inc's YouTube, and is hoping to launch it in the next few months, technology blog Recode reported late on Friday, quoting sources close to the situation. (link.reuters.com/jyw97v)
Yahoo is working on a plan to lure some of YouTube’s most popular stars and networks to show their stuff on the site, the blog said.
** TIME WARNER CABLE INC, $137.54, +1.23 pct
** COMCAST CORP, $50.06, +1.47 pct
Comcast is planning to increase its share buyback plan by more than 80 percent as its $45 billion takeover of Time Warner undergoes regulatory review in the coming weeks, Bloomberg reported.
** NOVARTIS AG, $84.69, +3.80 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, $74.85, +5.19 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.
** INTEROIL CORP, $64.28, +1.37 pct
The oil and gas company reported bigger revenue for the fourth quarter, helped by its midstream refining business. Revenue rose 12 percent to $398.9 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31. Revenue from the midstream refining business jumped 17 percent to $353.7 million.
** AMGEN INC, $122.705, +1.79 pct
The company’s drug from a high profile new class of experimental medicines lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol by 55 percent to 66 percent compared with a placebo in a trio of late-stage clinical trials, according to data presented on Saturday.
** IAMGOLD CORP, $3.54, -2.48 pct
** SEABRIDGE GOLD, $7.09, -3.93 pct
** AURICO GOLD INC, $4.39, -1.35 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, $145.88, +5.71 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, totalling $137 million. The company has 269.8 million outstanding shares.
** BUILDERS FIRSTSOURCE INC, $8.93, +11.07 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, $23.3499, +6.57 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. (Compiled by Abhirup Roy in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)