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Closing Update: Biotech, Chips Keep Nasdaq Composite On Winning Course; Late Surge Lifts Dow, S&P 500

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A late surge pushed stocks higher at the close, ending a listless session that struggled from the get-go to find direction. Mixed economic data today did little to influence investors while a weak outlook by aluminum producer Alcoa ( AA ) and disappointing results from Bed, Bath and Beyond ( BBBY ) began the Q1 earnings season on a down note although any broader disappointment seemed to dissipate by mid-day as the markets see-sawed between small gains and losses this afternoon.

Nine of the 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500 finished higher. Health care and tech stocks both performed relatively well today, giving the Nasdaq Composite index an added boost, with a pair of deals - one announced, another seemingly on hold - helping propel share prices.

Shares of biotech companies continued their recent rise after Rosetta Genomics ( ROSG ) said it was buying PersonalizeDx from Prelude Corp for around $3.5 million in cash and stock. The deal is expected to significantly add to ROSG finances, with pro forma 2015 revenue seen rising to between $10 million to $12 million and over $18 million next year.

Chipmakers also rose, with Altera Corp. ( ALTR ) climbing Thursday despite reports talks by the memory logic company with industry leader Intel Corp ( INTC ) about a potential buyout reportedly fell apart earlier today when the companies could not agree on a price.

Bloomberg News this morning said ALTR turned down a $54 per share offer by INTC, a 28.6% premium over its closing price last night. ALTR shares initially fell following the report but have since rebounded on likely speculation the companies could yet return to the table.

Energy stocks also rose today after crude oil prices edged higher, with the May contract settling 37 cents higher at $50.79 per barrel. May natural gas futures went in the opposite direction after a government report found inventories again rose more than expected last week, falling 9 cents at $2.53 per 1 million BTU.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at the end-of-day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 56.22 (+0.31%) to 17,958.73

S&P 500 up 9.28 (+0.45%) to 2,091.18

Nasdaq Composite Index up 23.74 (+0.48%) to 4,974.56

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Hang Seng Index up 2.70%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.93%

FTSE 100 Index up 1.12%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) NVGN, Said studies at the University of Queensland Diamantina indicate its Anisina experimental drug killed melanoma cells regardless of their mutational status.

(+) ROSG, Acquires PersonalizeDx, a molecular diagnostics and services firm, from Prelude Corp for around $3.5 million in cash and stock. Deal is contingent on Prelude closing on its purchase of PersonalizeDx from an undisclosed third party.

(+) DGLY, Wearable camera manufacturers rise in the wake of new calls to outfit more police officers with the devices following the shooting of an unarmed African-American man in South Carolina last weekend. TASR also rises.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) ZNGA, CEO Don Mattrick announces plan to step down, effective April 8, and will be replaced by company found and board chairman Mark Pincus. Mattrick also will resign from the ZNGA board.

(-) TRIV, Guides Q1 revenue at least $1.37 mln under $9.37 mln Street consensus. Also lowers FY15 outlook to a new range of $36 mln to $39 mln, trailing analyst estimates by at least $6.84 mln.

(-) ICLD, Announces recent awards of over $1.9M in new professional services contracts.

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

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

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