U.S. equities strengthened Wednesday with biotechnology stocks and sector-related exchange traded funds leading the charge on better-than-expected second quarter results.

On Wednesday, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NasdaqGS: IBB), which tracks the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index,rose 2.5%. The SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (NYSEArca: XBI), which follows a more equal weight methodology, gained 3.2% and was testing its resistance at the 200-day simple moving average.

Additionally, the BioShares Biotechnology Clinical Trials Fund (NasdaqGM: BBC), which tracks potential up-and-coming biotechnology companies that are in the clinical trials stage, increased 3.2%. The ALPS Medical Breakthroughs ETF (NYSEArca: SBIO), which focuses on small- and mid-cap companies that have one or more drugs in either Phase II or Phase III U.S. FDA clinical trials, advanced 3.2%. The BioShares Biotechnology Products Fund (NasdaqGM: BBP), which follows U.S.-listed biotech companies with a primary product offering or product candidate that has landed FDA approval, increased 3.1%.

Fueling the rallying Wednesday, Abbot Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) announced better-than-expected quarterly sales and profit on strong sales in its medical device business, Reuters reports. ABT shares rose 2.6% Wednesday.

Related: Biotech ETFs: Will the Once Hot Group Rebound?

Progenics Pharmaceuticals (NasdaqGS: PGNX) surged 24.9% Wednesday after Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (NYSE: VRX) received approval to use Relistor, which was licensed from Progenics, tablets to treat op opioid-induced constipation for patients with noncancer pain, the Wall Street Journal reported.


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