(Adds Apple, China Jo-Jo, Pier 1, Conn's Inc, Protalix, Isis, Biogen, Stage Stores, Pfizer, Stemline, Cyren, Andersons, Pacific Sunwear, Regulus, PDF Solutions, Boston Scientific, oil stocks; Updates American Eagle, Yahoo) (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 surged for a second day on Thursday, after equities snapped a five-session streak of losses in the prior session, on expectations for continued acceleration in the U.S. economy and more aggressive action by the European Central Bank. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 1.74 percent at 17,889.95, the S&P 500 was up 1.73 percent at 2,060.99 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.59 percent at 4,724.61.
** FORD MOTOR CO, $15.365, +2.16 pct
The carmaker raised its quarterly dividend 20 percent; to pay 15 cents per share first-quarter dividend. Ford on Monday reported 1 percent rise in December sales.
** APPLE INC, $111.81, +3.77 pct
Janney Capital Markets analysts said the company was likely to beat Wall Street expectations in the first quarter on the back of strong iPhone sales, according to TheStreet.
Analysts raised iPhone sales estimate to 62 million from 60 million and earnings and revenue forecasts to slightly above average estimate. Apple said App Store billings rose 50 percent in 2014.
** MISTRAS GROUP INC, $20.75, +13.57 pct
The acoustic emission sensor maker raised its revenue forecast to $720 million-$740 million for the full year from $705 million-$730 million on Wednesday, based on strong second-quarter results and “additional upside” from acquisition of Nacher Corp.
** AMERICAN EAGLE OUTFITTERS INC, $14.01, -4.24 pct
** AEROPOSTALE INC, $2.79, +23.45 pct
The U.S. teen apparel retailers said business in the holiday shopping quarter was better than they had expected as margins improved due to fewer discounts.
** YAHOO INC, $50.02, +2.94 pct
** AOL Inc, $48.7, +5.59 pct
Activist-investor Starboard Value LP has reiterated that Yahoo should consider a merger with AOL and cut costs to improve profits, spurred by media reports that Yahoo is exploring other large-scale acquisitions.
** CHINA JO-JO DRUGSTORES INC, $2.6638, +10.99 pct
The Chinese drugstore operator said it recently signed a service agreement with Alipay (China) Internet Technology Ltd to launch online payment service for customers. The company said customers will be able to make e-payments through mobile devices using Alipay’s services such as Alipay and Alipay Wallet, both in stores and online.
** PIER 1 IMPORTS INC, $16.36, +4.40 pct
The furniture retailer reported an 8.2 percent rise in December same-store sales, compared with a 1.3 percent rise in the same period a year earlier. “Traffic to the brand was up nicely and sell-through on our holiday assortments was on plan,” CEO Alex Smith said.
Change in the company’s promotional strategy was not hurting sales, Nomura analysts said in a note titled “Still Feeling the Holiday Cheer”.
** CONN‘S INC, $18.72, +3.83 pct
The electronics and home appliance retailer said net retail sales rose 11.5 percent in December and 19.4 percent in November.
The company withdrew its 2015 profit forecast last month, and said its CFO had resigned as its mainly low-income customers struggle with credit payments.
** PROTALIX BIOTHERAPEUTICS INC, $2.32, +11.54 pct
The Israel-based drug developer reported positive interim efficacy and safety data from an early trial on a drug for a rare disorder that causes an abnormal build-up of fat.
The drug, codenamed PRX-102, is being studied as a potential treatment for Fabry disease. The company said the drug demonstrated meaningful clinical benefits across key disease parameters.
** ISIS PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $70.7, +3.08 pct
The drug developer estimates that it ended 2014 with more than $725 million in cash, compared with its previous forecast of $575 million.
The company expects proforma net operating loss to be 70 percent less than its original forecast. It is testing seven drugs in late-stage and 15 drugs in mid-stage studies.
** BIOGEN IDEC INC, $351.39, -0.52 pct
The biotech company said an experimental drug showed evidence of biological repair of the optic nerve in patients with acute inflammation.
Evercore ISI analyst Mark Schoenebaum said the data was ”encouraging, but certainly not definitive. The drug, Anti-LINGO-1, also being tested in patients with multiple sclerosis.
** STAGE STORES INC, $21.33, +5.96 pct
The retailer raised its full-year profit forecast from continuing operations to $1.14-$1.18 per share, from $1.05-$1.15. The company reported a 6.5 percent rise in holiday season same-store sales, helped by better demand for footwear, women’s and cosmetics categories.
** PFIZER INC, $32.5, +2.04 pct
Pfizer said Thursday it has begun talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to finalize the prescription label of its breast cancer drug palbociclib, in an indication the drug was likely closer to regulatory approval.
** STEMLINE THERAPEUTICS INC, $15.895, -9.17 pct
The cancer drug developer priced 3.8 million common stock offering at $15.75 per share, a discount of 10 percent to its Wednesday close. The company said it will use funds to help cover development of drugs and other general corporate purposes.
** CYREN LTD, $1.79, +1.13 pct
The Israeli cybersecurity software company said IT services provider Reliable Networks signed up one of UK’s largest trade unions to use Cyren’s cloud-based web security services.
** ANDERSONS INC, $49.89, -5.06 pct
BMO Capital Markets downgraded the grain handler to “market perform” from “outperform”, and reduced its price target to $56 from $62. A fall in oil/gas prices over the last two months has pressured ethanol prices, and also created risk to incremental export demand, analyst Kenneth Zaslow wrote.
** PACIFIC SUNWEAR OF CALIFORNIA INC, $2.71, +18.34 pct
The fashion retailer raised its fourth-quarter sales growth forecast to 6 percent from 4 percent. The company expects fourth-quarter net loss 12-11 cents per share, smaller than 17-12 cents expected earlier.
Pacific Sunwear said December same-store sales were up 9 percent on strong performance in men’s and women’s categories during holiday season. Janney capital Markets upgraded the stock to “buy” and raised its price target to $3.50 from $3.
** REGULUS THERAPEUTICS INC, $20.04, +17.33 pct
The drug developer said it will speed up its hepatitis C drug development program with a mid-stage study that will investigate the drug as stand-alone agent and in combination with other drugs. The company also plans to enroll patients in mid-stage study on drug for Alport Syndrome, a genetic kidney disorder.
** PDF SOLUTIONS INC, $17.49, +28.79 pct
The software provider for integrated circuit makers said it signed two contracts that are expected to add $6 million to its first-quarter revenue.
** COUPONS.COM INC, $19.21, +10.66 pct
Craig-Hallum Capital started coverage on the online deal coupon provider’s stock with a “buy” rating, according to streetinsider.com.
** BOSTON SCIENTIFIC CORP, $14.54, +3.64 pct
Leerink Partners upgraded the medical device maker’s stock to “outperform” from “market perform” and raised price target to $18 from $15. “We are increasingly confident that BSX is well on track to achieve its long-term goals,” analysts wrote.
** AU OPTRONICS CORP, $6.01, +6.00 pct
The Taiwan-based flat-panel maker December sales rose 0.9 percent to $1.05 billion. Cantor Fitzgerald & Co raised its target price to $5 from $4.25, saying the revenue cycle has turned positive.
** CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES INC, $7.28, +6.43 pct
Quebec’s government and the miner are in talks about restarting the Bloom Lake iron ore mine, the country’s energy and natural resources minister told Bloomberg. Investissement Quebec, an investment arm of the provincial government, is talking to Cleveland-based Cliffs “about the next step,” the minister told Bloomberg.
** CRESCENT POINT ENERGY CORP, $23.33, +6.19 pct
** PARSLEY ENERGY INC, $14.4, +5.65 pct
** EMERGE ENERGY SERVICES LP, $52.33, +5.44 pct
** LAREDO PETROLEUM INC, $8.99, +8.18 pct
** GOODRICH PETROLEUM CORP, $3.39, +3.35 pct
** SANCHEZ ENERGY CORP, $8.53, +7.03 pct
Shares of mid-size oil producers gain as crude holds above $51/bbl, supported by a surprise drop in the United States inventories. Brent crude prices were up 12 cents to $51.27 by 1450 GMT; U.S. crude was up 19 cents at $48.84.
This is just a technical rebound after the massive drop in previous days,” said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank.
** SYNERON MEDICAL LTD, $11.1, +22.52 pct
The medical device maker expects fourth-quarter revenue of $72-$74 million, up 20-24 percent from last year. Analysts on average expect $67.82 million.
** VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INTERNATIONAL INC, $154.52, +6.48 pct
The company on Thursday raised its 2015 guidance for adjusted profit more than expected, as the drugmaker sees growth from existing products and a stream of small acquisitions.
** SUNEDISON INC, $18.895, +4.05 pct
The solar company said it bought new turbines that will enable it to develop up to 1.6 gigawatts of wind energy projects. Sunedison said TerraForm Power Inc will buy projects once they achieve commercial operation.
** IMPAX LABORATORIES INC, $35.04, +13.07 pct
The companies said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved Rytary, its drug for treating Parkinson’s disease, two years after initially rejecting it.
** KNIGHTBRIDGE SHIPPING LTD, $4.99, +20.24 pct
The dry bulk shipper’s shares said it has an agreement with an RWE AG unit to charter out 15 capesize vessels on long-term contracts.
Canaccord Genuity cut its price target on the stock, saying a supply glut in the dry bulk market was much worse than it had thought.
** GLOBAL PAYMENTS INC, $84.5, +6.57 pct
The payment processor said it expects a profit of $4.75-$4.83 per share for 2015, above average analyst estimate of $4.72. The company reported a better-than-expected second-quarter profit, helped by expansion in Asia.
** BROADWIND ENERGY INC, $5.04, -10.32 pct
The energy infrastructure company cut its fourth-quarter revenue forecast and said it expects loss-per-share to widen, hurt by continued “operational challenges” at its Abilene facility that makes wind towers.
The company said it now expects fourth-quarter revenue of $53 million-$54 million, lower than prior forecast by $5 million. It expects fourth-quarter wind tower earnings to be lower than its prior forecast by $3 million.
** CYTRX CORP, $3.65, +7.67 pct
CytRx said its cancer drug was effective against a type of skin cancer in HIV+ patients. Interim data from an ongoing mid-stage study showed that the drug, aldoxorubicin, stopped tumor growth in HIV+ patients suffering from Kaposi’s Sarcoma, the company said on Thursday.
** AVEO ONCOLOGY, $0.94, +12.57 pct
The drug developer said European regulators confirmed it is eligible to submit an application to market its lead drug, tivozanib, to treat a form of kidney cancer.
The news comes a day after the company outlined plans to cut two-thirds of its workforce. Aveo has suffered many setbacks and chopped its workforce as tivozanib had failed in multiple cancer indications.
** BIND THERAPEUTICS INC, $8.14, +58.06 pct
The drug developer said it enrolled its first patient in a mid-stage trial on lung cancer drug BIND-014. The Trial will focus on lung cancer patients with KRAS mutant, who have historically been unresponsive to standard treatment. Bind also attained milestone as part of agreement with Pfizer Inc
** ACURA PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $0.6, +5.63 pct
Egalet Corp to market the drugmaker’s painkiller Oxecta. Under deal, Acura will receive $5 million upfront and additional $2.5 million on first sale of tablet in United States.
The company will also receive additional $12.5 million when annual sales of tablet reach $150 million.
** BANCO SANTANDER SA, $7.44, -5.82 pct
Santander suspended as bank says to sell shares to hike capital by EUR 7.5 billion and cuts its dividend.
Other Spanish banks hit: BBVA down 0.8 percent, Caixabank down 1.6 percent and Banco Popular trims gains to be up 0.2percent -- all among the worst performers (apart from Greek banks) and lagging the 1.3 percent rise in Euro STOXX banks.
Euro STOXX banks had been up as much as 3 percent before the first reports of a capital boost.
** ALCATEL LUCENT SA, $3.47, +2.97 pct
Credit Suisse upgraded the French telecom company’s stock to “outperform” from “neutral” and raised its price target 3.75 euros from 3.25. The stock was one of the most traded on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, with nearly 1.3 million shares changing hands by 11.54 a.m. ET - almost equaling their 10-day average volume.
** GW PHARMACEUTICALS PLC, $77.71, +9.37 pct
An experimental cannabis drug failed to alleviate pain in cancer patients as hoped in a clinical study. GW Pharmaceuticals , which is developing the drug Sativex for pain in collaboration with Japan’s Otsuka Corp, said the first of three late-stage trials found no statistically significant difference between subjects using its product and those given a placebo.
** CONSTELLATION BRANDS INC, $107.06, +3.89 pct
The alcoholic beverage maker raised its full-year earnings forecast after reporting higher-than-expected quarterly sales and profit, helped by increased sales of its beer brands such as Corona and Modelo.
** ABBVIE INC, $67.95, +1.52 pct
** NEUROCRINE BIOSCIENCES INC, $26.02, +18.92 pct
An experimental drug being developed by AbbVie and Neurocrine successfully reduced symptoms of endometriosis in pre-menopausal women in the first of two late-stage studies.
** APOLLO EDUCATION GROUP, $27.92, -12.37 pct
** ITT Educational Services Inc, $9.62, +4.45 pct
The for-profit education provider Apollo Education Group forecast second-quarter revenue below analysts’ estimates and reported a 66 percent drop in first-quarter profit as fewer students signed up for its degree programs.
ITT shares also moved on the news.
** INFINITY PHARMA, $14.59, -10.66 pct
The company said it would stop testing its lead drug as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis after it failed the main goal in a mid-stage study. Duvelisib - being developed with AbbVie Inc in oncology - will still be tested to treat various types of blood cancer.
** IMPAX LABORATORIES INC, $35.04, +13.07 pct
The company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved Rytary, its drug for treating Parkinson’s disease, which was previously rejected due to issues with the company’s manufacturing plant in Hayward, California. The agency had also raised concerns about Impax’s factory in Taiwan.
** NOVARTIS AG, $95.58, +3.81 pct
The Swiss pharma group said it will submit regulatory applications in the United States for two treatments against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after late-stage clinical studies yielded good results.
** SANCHEZ ENERGY CORP, $8.53, +7.03 pct
The oil producer operating in Texas and Mississippi, cut its 2015 capital budget on Wednesday by 60 percent, citing a recent drop in crude oil prices.
** HALOZYME THERAPEUTICS INC, $14.14, +12.94 pct
The drugmaker believes it has a multibillion-dollar cancer drug on its hands. The drug, PEGPH20, being tested against pancreatic cancer, has the potential to help treat several other types of solid tumor cancers, its chief executive said in an interview.
** INSULET CORP, $41.08, -7.75 pct
The medical device maker slashed its fourth-quarter revenue estimate, citing delays in shipments of its non-insulin drug delivery products from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015.
The company now expects fourth-quarter revenue of $71 million-$73 million, down from its previous forecast of $76 million-$81 million.
** BIODEL INC, $1.719, +18.55 pct
The drug developer’s preliminary mid-stage trial results showed that its experimental insulin drug may be more effective than Eli Lilly and Co therapies in controlling glucose in patients when dosed immediately before breakfast.
** NEPHROGENEX INC, $9.42, +2.28 pct
The kidney disease drug developer said European Medicines Agency indicated current late-stage study of its drug to treat diabetic nephropathy could be adequate to support a marketing application.
** AMTRUST FINANCIAL SERVICES INC, $51.63, -4.39 pct
The property and casualty insurer said it will sell 3 million common shares in a public offering. Up to Wednesday’s close, the stock had risen 55.5 pct over the last year.
** ULTRAGENYX PHARMACEUTICAL INC, $51.4, +5.65 pct
Canaccord Genuity started coverage of the company’s stock with a “buy” rating and a $60 target price. (Compiled by Lehar Maan; Editing by Joyjeet Das)