Midday movers: Merck, United, SuperValu
Stocks pare earlier losses but remain down despite a drop in initial jobless claims. SVU tanks nearly 50%.
Investors begin to focus their attention on the upcoming bank earnings, with JP Morgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) due to report prior to the open Friday.
Merck (MRK) shares rose $1.73, or 4.20%, to $42.93 after the company said it was ending a trial of its treatment for post-menopausal patients with osteoporosis early because the results were so favorable. Following the announcement, Citigroup upgraded Merck to a "buy" and raised its price target on shares to $50 from $34.
Procter & Gamble (PG) moved up over 4% on indications that activist investor Bill Ackman's Pershing Square may have taken a significant position in the stock.
United Continental (UAL) confirmed an order to purchase 150 Boeing (BA) 737 airplanes. Boeing gained about 0.5%, while United dropped nearly 4%.
Among the notable gainers Thursday are Affymax (AFFY), up 16%, after signing a supply agreement with Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and Fastenal (FAST), up 7%, after its earnings beat consensus.
Among the noteworthy losers are SuperValu (SVU), down 45%, after its Q1 results missed expectations and the company said it was suspending its dividend and reviewing its strategic alternatives, and Calix (CALX), down over 20%, after the company announced preliminary results far below its previous guidance.
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The chain is selling tobacco for the first time this year, and it's paying off big-time.
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