Higher Open As Housing Starts Rise

February housing starts rose 0.8% to lift the markets to a higher open with the Dow gaining 50 points to 14,502. Nasdaq rose 10 points to 3247.

On the upside

AmerisourceBergen (NYSE: ABC) entered a ten-year distribution contract with Walgreen (NYSE: WAG).

NPS Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: NPSP) paid $50 million in stock to repurchase the worldwide rights to teduglutide and recombinant human parathyroid hormone 1-84 from Takeda Pharmaceutical.

An increase in February housing starts lifted shares of Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE: HOV).

On the downside

Affymax (Nasdaq: AFFY) will eliminate 75% of its jobs due to the recall of its anemia treatment Omontys and may explore the possibility of a sale or file for bankruptcy protection.

Harvest Natural Resources (NYSE: HNR) may have to restate financial results for the past three years due to accounting errors and the company warned of losses for 2012.

Hospital Properties Trust (NYSE: HPT) priced its offering of 14 million common shares at the discounted price of $25.55 per share.

In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of nearly 5 to 3 on the NYSE and by more than 5 to 3 on Nasdaq. The broader S&P 500 index added 3 points to 1555.

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