Stocks broke free of range-bound trading by late morning as gains in biotech helped to offset losses in energy. Another sharp decline in crude oil brought prices near bear market territory. Biogen (BIIB) and Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS) lifted the biotech sector after announcing positive developments in their joint treatment for spinal muscular atrophy. Biogen plans to submit for regulatory approval in the next few months. Manufacturing activity slowed in July, according to the ISM Manufacturing Index, though remained in expansion territory. The measure fell for the first time since April and at a faster pace than many expected. Construction spending in June also came in weak with activity in both the private and public sectors in decline. Spending slid 0.6%, a surprising drop for economists expecting an increase.
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