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.
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