Morning Movers (VRML, HNR, XOMA, ONTY, ZLTQ)

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The three major US equities indexes opened sharply lower this morning as there has been no news to counteract the weak economic projections that came out yesterday. The projected -0.3% contraction in eurozone GDP coupled with a slowdown of GDP growth in China to its lowest level in eight years are weighing heavily on equities. The dollar is gathering strength, though, and the dollar index is up 0.58% this morning at 79.759. The DJIA is down about 145 points at around 12,817, the Nasdaq Composite is down about 37 points at around 2,913, and the S&P 500 is down more than 17 points at around 1,347.

There are several stocks trading more heavily than usual this morning, and also experiencing large gains or drops in share prices. These include the Vermillion Inc. (NASDAQ: VRML), Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: HNR), XOMA Corp. (NASDAQ: XOMA), Oncothyreon Inc. (NASDAQ: ONTY), and Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc. (NASDAQ: ZLTQ).

Vermillion is up about 45% at $4.13. Volume is already nearly 10x the daily average of about 117,000 shares traded. The medical device maker received a code-change approval from the American Medical Association that incorporates one of the company’s devices.

Harvest Natural Resources is up nearly 31% at $8.19. Volume is already nearly double the daily average of about 490,000 shares traded. The independent oil & gas company has reported production growth at its Venezuelan fields and that it has begun discussions for a sale of its Venezuelan assets.

XOMA is up about 31% at $1.90. Volume is already about 15x the daily average of around 350,000 shares traded. The biopharmaceutical firm has announced pricing on a share offer of around 29.7 million shares and warrants.

Oncothyreon is down nearly -35% at $5.49. Volume is already about about 6x the daily average of around 1 million shares traded. The biopharma company reported a significant fourth-quarter EPS miss this morning..

Zeltiq is down about -31% at $7.65 after posting a new 52-week low of $7.55 earlier. Volume is already about 4x the daily average of around 185,000 shares traded. The medical technology company posted a dismal fourth-quarter earnings report this morning.

Paul Ausick