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Merck

(

MRK

) pushed the Drugs industry higher today making it today's featured drugs winner. The industry as a whole closed the day up 2.1%. By the end of trading, Merck rose $0.79 (1.4%) to $56.77 on light volume. Throughout the day, 8,707,236 shares of Merck exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 12,781,400 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $56.04-$56.84 after having opened the day at $56.09 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $55.98. Other companies within the Drugs industry that increased today were:

Reliv' International

(

RELV

), up 20.7%,

OncoMed Pharmaceuticals

(

OMED

), up 15.9%,

Actinium Pharmaceuticals

(

ATNM

), up 14.2% and

NovaBay Pharmaceuticals

(

NBY

), up 13.6%.

Merck & Co., Inc. provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products worldwide. Merck has a market cap of $163.9 billion and is part of the health care sector. Shares are up 11.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 6 analysts that rate Merck a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates

Merck

as a

buy

. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, good cash flow from operations, solid stock price performance and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the negative front,

Prana Biotechnology

(

PRAN

), down 71.6%,

Momenta Pharmaceuticals

(

MNTA

), down 16.9%,

MannKind Corporation

(

MNKD

), down 16.8% and

Fate Therapeutics

(

FATE

), down 13.5%.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the drugs industry could consider

SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF

(

XPH

) while those bearish on the drugs industry could consider

ProShares UltraShort Nasdaq Biotech

(

BIS

).

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