By Roberto Pedone

A number of stocks that trade on the Nasdaq stock exchange have been catching fire over the past few trading sessions. This trend could be only beginning as the markets continue to improve and as companies meet or beat lowered earnings expectations.

Just take a look at the 277% advance made by Human Genome Sciences ( HGSI) earlier this week. The stock broke out above $3.50 a share on huge volume after the company announced that Benlysta, the systemic lupus erythematsus drug the company is developing with GlaxoSmithKline ( GSK), showed some positive clinical results. The results showed that patients who took the drug achieved a statistically significant improvement in the symptoms of their disease compared with those who just took a placebo. Shares of Human Genome are now changing hands at around $14 a share. Anyone who owned the stock prior to this week has seen their investment triple in value, and if you owned call options, you really cashed in.

Another solid advance is taking place in Starbucks ( SBUX). On Tuesday night, the company report a better-than-expected profit for its fiscal third quarter due to improved store traffic and successful cost cutting measures. The company said that it achieved $175 million in cost savings for the third quarter, which was $25 million more than expected. For the fourth quarter, it said it plans to save $180 million, and for the full year, the company thinks it can hit its target of $550 million in cost savings. Recently, shares of Starbucks were up by more than 17% in intraday trading on almost four times the average daily volume.

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