Dow Poised to End the Week on Solid Ground


After yesterday's big rally, markets are mixed on relatively light volatility heading into the afternoon. Two of the three major indexes have held on to their gains and all appear poised to finish the week in positive territory.

After the Dow Jones Industrial Average's (INDEX: ^DJI) best performance in two weeks came yesterday, when it rose 0.96%, the index has tacked on another 0.2% so far in this trading session. It may be a stretch to think it will cross 13,000 today, but it is still well within striking distance for early next week. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) is also up slightly, gaining 0.1%, after hitting a nine-month high yesterday when each of the 10 sectors making up the index recorded gains. The Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC) , yesterday's top performer of the three major indexes, is down 0.4% today after seeing a 1.5% gain in the prior trading session.

What do investors have to thank for the support? Continued and increasing confidence of a Greek debt deal getting finalized and improvement in the U.S. economy, as seen in yesterday's positive housing and unemployment data. Furthermore, Congress doesn't appear determined to sabotage a recovery and in a show of bipartisanship passed an extension of the payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits through 2012.

Several other high-profile movers today include popular biotech Cell Therapeutics (NAS: CTIC) , which received a recommendation for European approval from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use for its non-Hodgkin's lymphoma drug Pixuvri. Shares are up over 25% on the news. The European Commission generally follows the committee's advice, much more so than the FDA does its own advisory panels'. Cell Therapeutics won an appeal for Pixuvri after receiving an FDA rejection, but recently pulled its application prior to the drug's review by an advisory panel. However, EU approval opens a pathway toward consistent revenue generation, so investors have a right to be excited.

On the other hand, Pixuvri is not a first-line treatment, so although competitor Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (NAS: SPPI) is down slightly today, its non-Hodgkin's lymphoma drug Zevalin isn't in jeopardy. For patients to receive Pixuvri, they would already have to have failed treatment with Zevalin. Cell Therapeutics investors need to keep that in mind as they are celebrating their gains over the weekend.

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