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Biotech Sector Settles on Trading Higher After Choppy Morning

The biotech sector was having some trouble settling on a direction earlier in today's trading session, but lately the measures that track the group were firmly in positive territory.

The American Stock Exchange Biotech Index was recently up 3%. The Dow Jones Biotech Index were gaining 1.2%, and the Biotech HOLDRs was also rising 1.2%. The latter two were down earlier in the session.

Applied Biosystems (ABI), a part of Applera, posted earnings of 22 cents a share this morning, a penny below the Thomson Financial/First Call estimate, and 4 cents below last year's same-quarter comparison. Revenue rose 3.5% in the quarter, and the company said it expects a slowdown in capital purchases and currency effects to "restrain revenue growth for the next few quarters" traders seemed keen on the stock today. Shares of Applied Biosystems were climbing 7.5% to $27.42.

Celera Genomics (CRA), the other company operating under the Applera umbrella, reported a wider-than-expected loss of 56 cents a share this morning. Analysts expected a loss of 54 cents a share. Celera, which is moving a large amount of its expenditures to drug discovery and research and away from online information, recently rose 7% to $31.20.

Amgen (AMGN), which is posting earnings after the bell, fell 3.7% to $57 today. Chiron (CHIR), which beat earnings estimates by a penny yesterday, also slipped, falling 0.2% to $42. Genome Therapeutics (GENE) was climbing 0.7% to $12.45, and Genzyme General (GENZ) rose 6.3% to $55.42. Shares of Biogen (BGEN) were slipping 0.2% to $52.84.

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