Health Care Stocks Leading Gainers

Health care stocks were helping limit losses for the broader markets Friday, with the NYSE Health Care Index 0.7% while shares of health care companies in the S&P 500 also were posting a 0.7% increase as a group.

In company news, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals (AUPH) shares were higher Friday after the early-stage nephrology and autoimmunity drugmaker said it selected Worldwide Clinical Trials to be its clinical research organization during an upcoming phase III study of its volcosporin prospective treatment for swollen kidneys.

The company expects to begin the late-stage randomized double-blind trial during the April-to-June quarter with about 320 patients with active lupus nephritis. The placebo-controlled study is slated to last 52 weeks and will try to duplicate phase IIB testing that produced complete remission 24 weeks after dosing and continue for another 28 weeks to measure renal response through the one-year mark.

AUPH shares were up about 4.9% at $3.20 each this afternoon, backing down from a prior session high today of $3.47 a share.