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Ballard, QLT: Early Volume Plays

Metabasis Therapeutics (MBRX) plummeted by 39 cents, or 42.9%, to 52 cents in the premarket session after Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND) will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Metabasis. Stockholders will receive a cash payment at the closing of the transaction of approximately $3.2 million, less Metabasis' estimated net liabilities at closing and an amount to be deposited in the stockholders' representative's fund, which Metabasis currently estimates the closing payment to be approximately $1.8 million in cash. The three-month average daily volume for Metabasis is 408,000, according to Yahoo! Finance.

LJ International (JADE) jumped by 18 cents, or 4.9%, to $3.88 in the premarket session in the absence of any company-specific news. Investors posting on Internet message boards attributed the move higher to accumulation. On Monday, the stock rose more than 3% on above-average volume. The three-month average daily volume for LJ International is 440,000, according to Yahoo! Finance.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in New York.

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