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Millennium Pharmaceuticals'


stock was surging and volume was five times greater than normal after word circulated through the market that the biotech company might be up for sale.

Shares of Millennium were lately up 81 cents, or nearly 9%, to $10.18, after having been ahead by 15%. More than 22 million shares had traded, compared with a daily average of about 4.5 million.

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The advance began in earnest after a televised report said that Millennium had hired an investment bank to explore a sale of the company.

In response to the rumor, the Cambridge, Mass., drug firm issued a statement saying that it did receive an offer and "engaged in a time-limited process to explore a strategic sale relative to the company's stated strategy of building a sustainable biopharmaceutical company."

The takeover offer has ended, however, and Millennium says it's now planning to focus on expanding the sales of its blood cancer drug Velcade, continuing studies on seven pipeline products and reaching its goal of long-term profitability.

Millennium says it doesn't respond to market rumors and doesn't expect to comment further.

The company's shares briefly traded at a 52-week high, hitting $11.46. Millennium's highest close for the past year is $11.25.