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Sector Update: Health Care

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Healthcare stocks were broadly higher Wednesday with the NYSE Healthcare Sector Index climbing about 0.8% and shares of healthcare companies in the S&P 500 advancing about 1.1% as a group.

In company news, InterMune, Inc. ( ITMN ) was holding on to a big gain in late trade, easing only slightly from a 20% advance that followed reports the biotechnology company has hired investment bankers to assist with evaluating strategic options.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Reuters today said ITMN, working on treatments for cystic fibrosis and other lung diseases, hired Centerview Partners and Goldman Sachs Group to help it to evaluate offers from larger drugmakers. The options include a possible sale of the company, the sources said, adding the company was not actively soliciting takeover offers.

ITMN shares already were trending higher throughout today's session but jumped nearly 10% within minutes of the Reuters report around 1 p.m. ET, reaching their best levels since September 2000 at $54.57 each. Shares more recently were up nearly 14% at $51.79 apiece.

In other sector news,

(+) OTIC, Prices $100 mln initial public offering of 6.25 mln shares of its common stock at $16 each.

(-) RIGL, Ends Phase II testing of its R348 drug candidate for patients with a form of dry eye disease after the treatment failed a mid-stage study. Failed study only the latest of setbacks, with RIGL also pulling the plug on trails of prospective treatments for skin disorders and asthma.

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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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