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U.S. stocks were little changed on Monday, as caution caused by turmoil in Iraq was countered by a flurry of merger activity. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.24 percent at 16,735.71, and the S&P 500 was down 0.17 percent at 1,932.93.
** BLUEBIRD BIO INC, $34.9, +33.77 pct
The drug developer reported positive data from an early-stage trial of its experimental gene therapy. Bluebird said the first two patients in trial did not require further cell transfusion within two weeks of a transplant with Bluebird’s gene therapy, which aims to treat a blood disorder.
** YAHOO INC, $35.03, -5.17 pct
The U.S. internet company’s shares were trading lower after Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd IPO-ALIB.N said its revenue growth slowed for the year ended March 31. Yahoo has a 22.5 percent stake in Alibaba.
Alibaba reported a 52 percent rise in 2014 revenue, compared with a 72 percent rise in 2013 revenue. (r.reuters.com/tyk22w)
** MEDTRONIC INC, $59.2, +1.61 pct
** COVIDIEN PLC, $85.94, +19.33 pct
U.S. medical device maker Medtronic said it agreed to buy Dublin-based Covidien for $42.9 billion and shift its executive headquarters to Ireland in the latest move by U.S. firms to harvest lower corporate tax rates abroad. While the cash and stock deal will allow Medtronic to reduce its overall global tax burden, the Minneapolis-based company said on Sunday its corporate tax rate, at 18 percent, won’t change much.
** FUSION-IO INC, $11.4, +22.84 pct
** SANDISK CORP, $101.28, +2.85 pct
SanDisk is buying Fusion-io for about $1.1 billion to bulk up its flash storage business and reduce its exposure to the volatile memory chip market. SanDisk’s offer of $11.25 per share represents a premium of 21 percent to Fusion-io’s Friday close.
** NEWCASTLE INVESTMENT CORP, $4.99, +2.05 pct
The real estate investment trust said it will spin off its senior housing business into a publicly traded real estate investment trust that primarily targets senior housing-related investments.
** ACHILLION PHARMACEUTICALS, $7.85, +21.33 pct
Maxim Group analyst Jason Kolbert raised his price target on the stock to $22 from $6, saying he expected study data on the company’s experimental hepatitis C drugs to be available by year end. Kolbert also said that the “acquisition potential” for the company remained high.
** FTI CONSULTING INC, $35.9, +8.23 pct
The advisory firm said it expects second-quarter adjusted earnings to be 49-55 cents per share, up from a previous guidance of 32-42 cents per share.
** The company also forecast second-quarter revenue of between $445 million and $450 million, up from $430 million- $445 million.
** DREAMWORKS ANIMATION, $24.1575, -11.67 pct
Janney Capital Markets analyst Tony Wible said the opening box office of the Hollywood studio’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2” fell below industry benchmark and cut the price target on the stock to $32 from $33.
The movie took in $50 million from Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian box office, according to tracking firm Rentrak. This was below all of the animated industry’s last six June-premieres which opened to over $60 million, Wible said.
More than 2 million shares changed hands by 11.14 ET, nearly three times their 10-day moving average.
** AK STEEL HOLDING, $6.81, +6.07 pct
Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded the U.S. steelmaker’s stock to “buy” from “neutral”, according to Benzinga.com.
** BANCO FRANCES SA, $10.08, -7.10 pct
** GRUPO FINANCIERO GALICIA SA, $12.97, -6.15 pct
** YPF SA, $30.77, -6.56 pct
** EMPRESA DISTRIBUIDORA Y COMERCIALIZADORA NORTE SA , $10.36, -13.23 pct
U.S.-listed Argentine stocks were trading lower after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Argentina’s appeal as part of a decade-long litigation over the country’s obligations to bond investors. The government had warned it could default on its sovereign debt if required to pay in full.
** LAYNE CHRISTENSEN CO, $13.41, -10.00 pct
The construction and drilling company reported a bigger-than-expected first-quarter loss due to project delays. Layne said its taking steps to cut costs and expects to save $12 million-$20 million annually. This includes evaluating under-performing assets and businesses.
** VERTEX PHARMA INC, $68, -7.47 pct
Cowen and Co analysts said the biotech company’s experimental drug for the treatment of a kind of lung disease had a 60 percent chance of success in an upcoming late-stage trial. The analysts said the stock could rise above $100 if the trial succeeds.
** LITHIA MOTORS INC, $86.88, +13.30 pct
The auto retailer said it would buy DCH Auto Group (USA) Inc for $362.5 million. THE DEAL IS EXPECTED to increase Lithia's 2014 earnings per share by about 12-14 cents, excluding acquisition costs. The offer includes $22.5 million in Lithia shares (r.reuters.com/xan22w)
** TW TELECOM INC, $38.85, +6.91 pct
** LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS INC, $41.579, -5.70 pct
Telecommunications services company Level 3 Communications said it would buy internet services provider tw telecom for $40.86 per share in a cash and stock deal to expand its commercial fiber network in the United States. The deal, valued at about $5.64 billion based on outstanding shares as of April 30, is at a premium of 12 percent to tw telecom’s Friday closing price of $36.34.
** WILLIAMS COS INC, $55.91, +18.50 pct
** ACCESS MIDSTREAM PARTNERS LP, $65.61, +0.38 pct
Pipeline operator Williams Cos said on Sunday it agreed to acquire control of Access Midstream Partners for $5.99 billion, aiming to enlarge its role in the U.S. natural gas boom.
Raymond James raised the target price on Williams’s stock to $61 from $47.
** DARA BIOSCIENCES, $1.35, +20.54 pct
The drugmaker said the U.S Food and Drug Administration granted an orphan drug status to its experimental compound used to treat multiple myeloma - a bone marrow cancer.
Orphan drug status - for drugs developed to treat rare diseases - gives the drugmaker incentives, including a seven-year marketing exclusivity.
** GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER CO, $27.2, +3.66 pct
A Barron's report said the tire maker could benefit from rising auto production in North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa. It also said Goodyear would also likely benefit from a strengthening auto market in Asia. (r.reuters.com/nym22w)
** KARYOPHARM THERAPEUTICS INC, $41.1, -12.78 pct
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked the company to conduct a large study to test the effectiveness of its experimental drug for a type of cancer in dogs.
** STAR BULK CARRIERS CORP, $12.98, +7.54 pct
The company said it would buy fellow dry bulk carriers Oceanbulk Shipping LLC and Oceanbulk Carriers LLC in an all-stock deal that will make Oaktree Capital Management its largest shareholder. Star Bulk Carriers is issuing 54.104 million new shares to buy the Oceanbulk companies, valuing the deal at about $653 million based on Star Bulk Carrier’s Friday close of $12.07 on the New York Stock Exchange.
** ZYNGA INC, $3.095, -0.16 pct
The social gaming company said on Friday it was not in compliance with Nasdaq listing rules after two independent directors stepped down from the company’s board on June 11. Nasdaq requires that the board of a company must have a majority of independent directors.
** NEWCASTLE INVESTMENT CORP, $4.99, +2.05 pct
The real estate investment trust (REIT) said it will spin off its senior housing business. New Senior Investment Group Inc will be a publicly traded real estate investment trust that primarily targets senior housing-related investments.
** ISIS PHARMA INC, $34.14, +1.52 pct
Company says a mid-stage trial showed its experimental diabetes drug, when used in combination with metformin, reduced patients’ blood sugar levels.
** ARROWHEAD RESEARCH CORP, $13.075, +6.04 pct
The drug developer said it has access to intellectual property needed to develop ARC-520, its experimental hepatitis B drug. (Compiled by Mridhula Raghavan; Edited by Don Sebastian)