The small-cap sector traded beneath the major indices Thursday even as several names soared on various positive news. Volt Information Sciences ( VOL), for instance, leapt 25.8% after the New York-based staffing company posted fiscal third-quarter income of $9.1 million, or 40 cents a share. That crushes two analysts' 32-cent EPS estimate, per Thomson Financial. Shares were up $3.95 to $19.24. In positive analyst calls, meanwhile, California's Conexant Systems ( CNXT) surged 17.5% to $1.34 after CIBC upped the semiconductor concern to sector outperformer, citing stock valuation and his belief that "real restructuring" seems to be on the horizon. He pointed to yesterday's announcement that Karen Roscher will replace J. Scott Blouin as chief financial officer, which follows Daniel Artusi's appointment as CEO earlier this year. Elsewhere, Provectus Pharmaceuticals ( PVCT) jumped 16.2% in very heavy trading after getting clearance for midphase testing on Provecta, which is proposed to treat stage III and IV metastatic melanoma -- an advanced form of skin cancer. Shares of the Knoxville, Tenn., company were up 39 cents to $2.80. Natural-gas processor MarkWest Hydrocarbon ( MWP) was also well in positive territory after agreeing to merge with MarkWest Energy Partners ( MWE), which the former currently controls and operates. MarkWest Hydrocarbon investors will receive around $734 million in stock and cash, or $61.12 a share, and the company will become a wholly owned subsidiary of MarkWest Energy.