Health stocks stayed in line with the broader markets Wednesday, with light news save two surprises.

First, ImClone ( IMCL) announced that a large, unnamed pharmaceutical company has bid $70 a share for its outstanding shares. The new bid outdoes Bristol-Myers Squibb's ( BMY - Get Report) $60-a-share bid made in July. ImClone's board officially rejected the Bristol offer and said it has yet to determine its stance on the new proposal.

ImClone's shares closed up $4.29, or 6.7%, at $67.94.

Second, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Aventis ( SNY - Get Report) had its own surprise. The company said it has hired GlaxoSmithKline's ( GSK) Chris Viehbacher, the head of North American pharmaceuticals division, to take over as CEO. Viehbacher's mission will include strengthening the development of new products and Sanofi's leadership.

Sanofi's shares were up $1.92, or 5.7%, at $35.45.

ImClone is a component of the Amex Biotechnology Index, which was up 1.9%. Sanofi is a component of the Amex Pharmaceutical Index, which was up just 0.6% for the day.

Bernstein Research downgraded one of the pharma components, Merck ( MRK - Get Report), to market perform from outperform. Shares were down 82 cents, or 2.4%, at $33.52.

Also, Bank of America picked up coverage on a slew of medical research companies. It established buy ratings on three, with neutral ratings on two others:

  • Zimmer Holdings (ZMH): Buy rating and $80 price target. The stock dipped 42 cents to $71.10.

  • Stryker (SYK): Neutral rating and $70 price target. Shares were down 2.7% to $64.91.

  • St. Jude Medical (STJ): Neutral rating and no price target given. The stock slipped 31 cents to $44.51.

  • Medtronic (MDT - Get Report): Buy rating and $62 price target. Shares were off 9 cents to $53.84.

  • Boston Scientific (BSX - Get Report): Buy rating and $16 price target. Shares added 2% to $12.65.