We welcome March this week but Groundhog Day clearly doesn’t want to let go. Stocks slumped and volatility surged as Italian angst returned; investors have indeed been here before
. The Dow
(^DJI) plunged to its lowest level since January 23 after it became clear Rome remains torn between a convict
and a comedian
. (And you thought our politics were crazy.)
Pity our 16th president. Fresh from being the victim of a comedian who killed before a billion people
, he had to watch from on high as Lincoln National
(LNC) fell 4.71% and Lincoln Educational
(LINC) lost 4.85% in especially torrid trading for the insurance and educational sectors.
(BP), whose former CEO would like his “life back
," tumbled 3.42% amid ongoing Gulf of Mexico legal angst. Cemetery stock StoneMor Partners
(STON), whose clients are alas unlikely to enjoy what Tony Hayward so desires, surged 1.74% and fellow funeral firm Carriage Services
(CSV) rose 2.38% after-hours. Amgen
(AMGN) advanced 3.14% to top the S&P 500
(^GSPC). It stands at a fresh all-time peak after appropriately-named analyst Boris Peaker at Oppenheimer sung the biotech’s praises.
Today in economics, new home sales for January and February consumer confidence are each expected to tick up at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, and Fed head Ben Bernanke begins two days of testimony on Capitol Hill. In earnings action, AutoZone
(PINK:BASFY), DreamWorks Animation
(DWA), Edison International
(EIX), Gulfport Energy
(HFC), Home Depot
(RSH), R.R. Donnelley
(RRD), Saks Inc.
(SKS), TiVo Inc.
(TIVO), and Vivendi
(PINK:VIVHY) are all due to report results.
(MO): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers the tobacco titan to Neutral from Buy.
(ADM): The stock is reduced to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.
(ATML): Shares get cut to Market Perform from Outperform with a $7.50 price objective at FBR Capital on concerns that the company isn’t in pole position any longer to secure the Samsung
(PINK:SSNLF) Galaxy S4 touch controller contract.
(CHK): Following yesterday’s 6.78% slide in the stock, shares are slipping further before the bell after Johnson Rice reduced its rating to Equal Weight from Overweight.
(CL): Bank of America-Merrill moves the stock to Neutral from Buy against a backdrop of challenging sales growth. Its price objective is $119.
(GB): The medical appliance name is now Market Perform from Outperform at Northland Securities
(KYO): KYO is cut to Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.
(LO): Crédit Agricole lowers the cigarette stock to Underperform from Buy after Mitch Zeller was named to head the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products. As a result of his appointment, the chance of a menthol ban has risen considerably, according to the analyst. The target price is now $42, down from $49.
(LSI): The tech stock is taken to Market Perform from Outperform with an $8 price objective at FBR Capital. Issues include a substantial sequential drop in first quarter personal computer shipments.
(MDP): Piper Jaffray moves the media firm to Neutral from Overweight due to valuation.
(ROSE): Miller Tabak reduces ROSE to Sell from Hold.
(NASDAQ:TXN): Evercore slashes the semiconductor stock to Equal Weight from Overweight.
(RIG): RIG is reduced to Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie.
(TSN): Troubled by uncertainty over the near-term availability of cattle, Stephens takes TSN to Equal Weight from Overweight and trims its target by $2 to $26.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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