Thursday proved to be another droopy day for health stocks, as news kept on the light side and investor sentiment continued to mimic the broader markets. The Nasdaq and Amex biotechnology indices were down 0.8% and 0.7%, respectively. The Amex Pharmaceutical Index was off by just 0.07%. Pharma components Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY) and AstraZeneca ( AZN) managed to buck the trend, gaining 1.7% and 1.8%, respectively. Thermage ( THRM) soared Thursday after the company said it received a revised unsolicited bid from a third party, putting its pending acquisition of Reliant Technologies in doubt. Thermage, which makes devices for wrinkle treatments, would receive $5.50 a share in cash or a combination of cash and stock in the third-party bid. The company, which in July that it would buy the laser skin resurfacing company Reliant Technologies for $87.5 million in cash and stock, said its board will consider the proposal and respond in due course. If it accepts the bid, it would scrap the Reliant deal. Thermage shares rose $1.32, or 43.7%, to $4.34. In clinical news, Bayer and Onyx ( ONXX) said Thursday that they have begun enrolling patients in a late-stage study, dubbed STORM, on Nexavar as an adjuvant treatment for prevention of recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma, or primary liver cancer, following surgery or local radiation. The company said the Food and Drug Administration has completed a special protocol assessment (SPA) -- an agreement on the design and size of a trial meant to be the basis for a new drug application -- for the STORM trial. Onyx shares, however, were off by 52 cents, or 1.2%, at $41.57. In analyst actions, Lazard upgraded ArthroCare ( ARTC) to buy from hold, with a $38 price target. Its shares were up $1.20, or 4.8%, at $26.37. Also, Leerink Swann initiated coverage of Jazz Pharmaceuticals ( JAZZ) with a market perform rating. Jazz shares were down 36 cents, or 4.5%, at $7.71.
Stocks soar as the gross domestic product rises at an annualized rate of 3.5% in the third quarter and continuing jobless claims fall. Gregg Greenberg recaps the action in The Real Story video (above).