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Sector Update: Healthcare

Healthcare stocks were slightly higher with the NYSE Healthcare Sector Index gaining about 0.1% and shares of healthcare companies in the S&P 500 also rising 0.1% as a group.

In company news, Bayer AG reportedly is nearing an agreement to buy Merck & Co's ( MRK ) consumer healthcare unit in a deal that could value the business at around $14 billion.

Bayer and Merck were hammering out final terms of an agreement and could announce the transaction in the next several days, , people familiar with the matter told Reuters this afternoon. Representatives at either firm declined comment.

MRK shares were up 1.5% in late trade at $59.45 each, earlier climbing to a new 52-week high of $59.84 a share.

In other sector news,

(+) MACK, Rallies to 19-month high after saying patients treated with its experimental pancreatic cancer drug lived longer than patients who received only standard chemotherapy.

(-) ARAY, Shares sink after order volume for the radiosurgery company falls year over year due to a slump in its U.S. pipeline, upstaging smaller-than-expected Q3 net loss, above-consensus revenue and ARAY raising its FY14 outlook.

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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