Another Higher Close For Healthcare Stocks; Medtronic Climbs on Positive Study Results for Heart-Valve Device

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Healthcare stocks were mostly higher ahead of the closing bell with the NYSE Healthcare Sector Index gaining 1.3% and shares of healthcare companies in the S&P 500 rising almost 1.4% as a group.

In company news, Medtronic ( MDT ) shares were ahead nearly 2% in late trade, earlier establishing a new 52-week high after the medical device company reported positive results compared to more invasive surgical procedures in a follow-up study of its catheter-based CoreValve heart-value replacement system.

According to the company, the self-expanding valves demonstrated excellent clinical performance and long-term durability after four years in use in patients with severe aortic stenosis. The study also found nearly three-quarters of the patients reported improved quality of life one year after their procedures.

U.S. regulators in January approved the CoreValve system for use in patients considered at extreme risk for open-heart surgery but have not approved it yet for high-risk patients. The device and procedure received CE Mark approval from European regulators in 2007. The study results were reported this weekend during the Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology.

MDT shares were up 1.17% at $61.44 in late Monday trade, earlier climbing to a new 52-week high of $61.60 a share.

In other sector news,

(+) BIIB, U.S. regulators approve the company's Alprolix hemophilia B drug.

(-) MNKD, Piper Jaffray downgrades the company's shares to Underweight from Neutral ahead of its April 1 meeting with the Food and Drug Administration on its Afrezza diabetes drug. Price target cut to $1.50 from $5 a share.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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