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Sector Watch: Biotechs Pull Back Following Recent Surge

Tech stocks across the board had a down day Wednesday after a week of consistent gains, and biotech stocks weren't able to escape the decline. The Dow Jones U.S. Biotech Index had climbed 15.3% in the week leading up to yesterday's close, before slipping back 3.4% today. The index is up more than 39% since the recent Nasdaq low on April 4.

"It's similar to what we're seeing in the rest of tech," said Rob Cohen, the co-head of listed trading for Credit Suisse First Boston. "People put a lot of money to work over the last week. Buyers are just taking a breather."

Abgenix (ABGX) fell hard today, losing 11.5% to $40.35. Human Genome Sciences (HGSI) lost 6.4% to $68.46 today, while Gilead Sciences (GILD), a company developing drugs to deal with infectious diseases, fell 6.5% to $54.04.

The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index had added 17.8% during the last week, and 53.2% since April 4, but it fell 3.8% today. Cohen noted that the moves weren't attended by "a lot of volume or heavy selling."

Millennium Pharmaceuticals (MLNM), one of the biggest biotech gainers in the last week, climbing by 34.7%, lost 5.7% today to $41.80. Imclone Systems (IMCL), which was all over the press last week for its research announcements coming from the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference, gained 23.4% in the past week, before losing 5.3% to $47.61 today.

Biogen (BGEN) fell 6% to $59.79 today, while OSI Pharmaceuticals (OSIP) dropped 5.8% to $48.10. The Nasdaq 100 Index, which includes a broad range of tech stocks, including biotechs, fell 3.1%. Amgen (AMGN - Get Report) slipped 1.7% to $65.15.

One biotech notable headed higher today was Genome Therapeutics (GENE), which rose sharply after a positive research report this morning from Ladenburg Thalmann. The firm, according to reports, rated Genome Therapeutics a strong buy, saying that the company is "a leader in using pathogen genomes to find anti-infective drugs." The firm also put an $84 price target on the stock. Shares of Genome Therapeutics traded for $13.05 earlier, a gain of 39.5% on the day.

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