(For more market insights, including options activity, click on ; for the Day Ahead newsletter link.reuters.com/mex49s) U.S. stocks slid on Wednesday after legislators in Washington reached a provisional budget deal, which increased investor expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve may wind down its stimulus in the coming months. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.53 percent at 15,887.88, the S&P 500 was down 0.75 percent at 1,789.17 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.97 percent at 4,021.096.
** CYTRX CORP, $3.98, +66.53 pct
The company said its experimental cancer drug improved survival rates in soft tissue sarcoma patients without the disease progressing, compared to chemotherapy alone.
** AUTOHOME INC, $29.74, +74.94 pct
Shares of the owner of Chinese auto websites rose as much as 83 percent in their U.S. market debut, valuing the company at about $3.2 billion.
** VALERO ENERGY PARTNERS LP, $28.01, +21.78 pct
Shares of the company rose as much as 24 percent in its market debut, valuing the company at about $1.7 billion.
The company was formed by Valero Energy Corp to operate pipelines and terminals for the transportation of crude oil and refined petroleum products.
** OPKO HEALTH INC, $9.76, -15.13 pct
A report on SeekingAlpha.com said the company is grossly overvalued, adding that “with a run-rate operating loss now exceeding $100 million annually, we believe it is unlikely shareholders will ever see a profit out of Opko”.
The article cites a plethora of reasons including the unlikely commercialization of the company's Alzheimer's test, and its acquisition of Claros Diagnostics - which makes only one product that does not even work. (link.reuters.com/puc45v)
** NANOSTRING, $16.3, +16.01 pct
Brokerage Baird upgraded the medical device maker to “outperform” from “neutral”, according to Theflyonthewall.com.
** GROUPON INC, $10.35, +3.09 pct
Wells Fargo raised its rating on the company’s stock to “outperform”, according to Theflyonthewall.com.
** LABORATORY CORPORATION OF AMERICA HOLDINGS , $88.1, -11.14 pct
** QUEST DIAGNOSTICS, $55.54, -5.22 pct
LabCorp, the laboratory services provider, cut the lower end of its full-year adjusted earnings forecast to a range of $6.90 to $7.05 per share, from $6.95 to $7.05.
Piper Jaffrey and Cannacord Genuity cut their price target on the company’s stock by as much as $24.
LabCorp was the biggest percentage loser on the S&P 500.
Shares of its peer Quest also fell and analysts said weakness in the clinical laboratory industry and reimbursement pressures will continue to weigh on the companies’ results.
** NORTHSTAR REALTY FINANCE CORP, $11.63, +17.00 pct
The diversified commercial real estate investment company said it would spin-off its asset management business into a separate publicly traded company in the form of a tax-free distribution.
NorthStar Asset Management is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and will also manage company’s non-traded REIT business and own its broker-dealer platform.
** AVANIR PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $3.275, -23.66 pct
The company said its drug used for the treatment of central neuropathic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis failed in a mid-stage trial. There was no difference between the treatment arms and placebo.
Mizuho cut its rating on the company’s stock to “neutral” from “buy”, according to Theflyonthewall.com.
** ARC GROUP WORLDWIDE INC, $21.07, +4.57 pct
Brokerage Brean Capital started the company, which makes equipment used in wireless communication, with a “buy” rating calling it an “attractive asset”, and said it was positive on the advanced technology sector.
** SCRIPPS NETWORKS INTERACTIVE INC, $80.4, +6.84 pct
** DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS INC, $85.28, +0.13 pct
Discovery Communications is considering a bid for Scripps Networks, home to the Food Network and HGTV. Discovery’s board discussed making a possible run at the sought-after cable company, according to a report in Variety citing a person with knowledge of the Discovery board meeting.
Scripps was the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P 500.
** PDC ENERGY INC, $53.81, -7.05 pct
Analysts at SunTrust Robinson cut their price target on the oil and gas producer’s stock to $57 from $68, citing disappointing results from its Utica well in Washington County and the company’s 2014 production forecast which was below Wall Street’s estimate.
** MICROSOFT CORP, $37.595, -1.35 pct
** CISCO SYSTEMS INC, $20.825, -1.82 pct
Europe’s second-highest court upheld a decision by European Union regulators clearing Microsoft’s $8.5 billion takeover of Skype in 2011, rejecting a challenge by the world’s top network equipment maker Cisco.
Citigroup started coverage on Cisco’s stock with a “sell” rating, according to Theflyonthewall.com
** MASTERCARD INC, $793.49, +3.91 pct
The world’s No.2 credit and debit card company, on Tuesday announced a 10-for-1 stock split and raised its quarterly dividend by 83 percent.
At its Tuesday close, MasterCard was the third most expensive stock of the S&P500 Index behind Priceline.com Inc and Google Inc.
** ADVANCED SEMICONDUCTOR ENGINEERING INC $4.82, -4.93 pct
The Taiwan-based provider of integrated circuit packaging and testing services had been ordered by the Kaohsiung city government to suspend operations of a plant in the city after it was found to be leaking toxic wastewater, according to the Taipei Times. (r.reuters.com/guc45v)
Since the company was fined three times for the same violation last year, the Greater Kaohsiung’s Environmental Protection Bureau decided to impose the stiffest fine possible and halt the plant’s operations, the Taipei Times said.
** CHILDREN’S PLACE RETAIL STORES INC, $55.28, +4.92 pct
FBR Capital Markets upgraded its rating on the company’s stock to “outperform” from “market perform,” saying the children’s apparel retailer’s sales would likely be helped by the cold weather.
The brokerage also raised its price target on the stock to $62 from $54.
** ENCANA CORP, $18.33, -4.28 pct
Canada’s largest natural gas producer said it would boost liquids production by 30 percent in 2014 as part of new Chief Executive Doug Suttles’ plan to focus spending on regions rich in gas liquids and oil.
** AVON PRODUCTS INC, $17.09, -4.10 pct
The world’s largest direct seller of cosmetics said it will halt the further roll-out of its order management technology and cut about 650 jobs.
** JOY GLOBAL INC, $52.87, -5.99 pct
The mining equipment maker reported an 87 percent fall in quarterly profit as it took a big charge and coal miners cut spending due to a supply glut and weak prices.
** DEMAND MEDIA INC, $5.85, +8.94 pct
Brokerage JMP Securities upgraded the social media company’s stock to “market outperform” from “market perform” saying that the stock is oversold, with the asset value exceeding the market value by 40 percent.
** EHEALTH INC, $45.3882, +5.80 pct
Jefferies started coverage of the private health insurance exchange’s stock with a “buy” rating, and said the company’s growth trajectory was underappreciated.
EHealth’s online health insurance marketplace positioned the company grow its earnings by 40 percent over 2013 to 2017, analyst David Styblo wrote in a note.
** TRULIA INC, $28.77, -5.83 pct
The online real estate listing service said it intends to offer $150 million convertible senior notes.
** COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP, $119.44, -0.50 pct
The warehouse club operator reported a first-quarter profit and sales that fell short of analysts’ estimates, hurt by a rise in operating expenses.
** VIMICRO INTERNATIONAL CORP, $1.95, +8.33 pct
The China-based company, which provides audio and video signal processing chips for cameras in PCs, said its unit won an order from the Baoding Public Security Bureau worth nearly $41 million, of which Vimicro will receive about $16 million.
** ALLISON TRANSMISSION HOLDINGS INC, $26.05, -4.96 pct
The maker of fully automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles said its largest shareholders, Carlyle Group LP and Onex Corp, sold 12.5 million shares.
** CENTRAL GARDEN & PET CO, $6.63, -9.43 pct
The lawn, garden and pet supplies company on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter results that missed the analysts’ average estimate, hurt by a decline in sales at its pet and garden businesses.
** URBAN OUTFITTERS INC, $37.0325, +3.62 pct
The teen apparel retailer said on Tuesday that comparable sales in its retail segment were up by a “mid-single-digit” percentage so far in the fourth quarter, which includes the holiday season.
** MODUSLINK GLOBAL SOLUTIONS INC, $4.1, +6.77 pct
The provider of logistics and e-business services reported a profit of $617,000 for the first quarter, compared to a loss of $10.7 million a year earlier. (Compiled by Avik Das in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D’Souza)