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Stock Downgrades: Boeing Going, Going, Gone

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Wall Street ratings agencies set the tone for today's stock market.

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After Vail Resorts (MTN) rang the opening bell from its mountain, it was basically all downhill for Wall Street's moguls. Shares slipped after last week's good gains, and gold - already down six weeks in a row - dropped for a third straight day. If only the metal provided the same value for money as the incomparable Lionel Messi, fresh from winning his fourth straight Golden Ball. McDonald's (MCD), riding chicken wings, rose 1.18% to top the Dow (^DJI) but fellow blue chip Boeing (BA) got its wings clipped. It tumbled more than 2% yesterday and is falling further ahead of this morning's opening bell having just incurred a ratings reduction. Analysts at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (BAC) were much more complimentary on VIVUS Inc. (VVUS). From its expensive downtown Manhattan offices overlooking an Irish Hunger Memorial, the bank's bullish thesis saw the diet drug maker plump up 8.15%.

Today in economics, November consumer credit is expected to contract at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. In corporate action, Alcoa (AA) unofficially ushers in fourth quarter reporting season when it announces earnings after the close. Acuity Brands (AYI), Apollo Group (APOL) and Monsanto (MON) are also all due to release results.

Alliant Techsystems (ATK): ATK is taken to Neutral from Outperform at Cowen & Company.

Ameriprise Financial (AMP): Troubled by a steep valuation, Credit Suisse lowers the stock to Neutral from Outperform. Its new price objective is $67.

AutoZone (AZO): AZO is clipped to Underweight from Equal-Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Baker Hughes (BHI): Sterne Agee slashes the oil services outfit to Neutral from Buy due to "limited near-term catalysts."

Ball Corp (BLL): Shares are now Neutral from Outperform with a $48 objective at Robert W. Baird, which cites valuation after a period of substantial out-performance.

Boeing (NYSE:BA): The Dow (^DJI) member, down 2.01% yesterday, is this morning moved to Hold from Buy at BB&T Capital.

Bridgepoint Education (BPI): Barclays lowers BPI to Equal-Weight from Overweight.

Central Garden & Pet (CENT): Shares are downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Johnson Rice.

Deckers Outdoor (DECK): Robert W. Baird reduces the maker of Ugg boots to Neutral from Outperform with a $45 target price. The broker believes that close-outs sales will harm gross margins drag in the first half of fiscal 2013.

Defense Stocks: Northrop Grumman (NOC) gets downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan, which reduces Raytheon (RTN) to Neutral from Overweight.

Dresser-Rand (DRC): DRC gets downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

easyJet (PINK: ESYJY) The budget British airline is now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Embraer (ERJ): JPMorgan moves the Brazilian maker of private jets to Underweight from Equal Weight.

EMC Corp. (EMC): The data storage stock gets downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform by William Blair, whose concerns include industry growth issues.

EnergySolutions (ES): The stock is moved to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital.

Fusion-io (FIO): FIO is trading lower before today's opening bell after being taken to Market Perform from Outperform by William Blair.

HSBC Holdings (HBC): The banking giant is trading lower in London today after a Hold-from-Buy ratings reduction at Investec.

Industrial Stocks: Emerson Electric (EMR) is moved to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley, which reduces Rockwell Automation (ROK) to Underweight from Equal Weight.

ITT Educational Services (ESI): ESI gets downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

JetBlue Airways (JBLU): Shares are downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank, which believes its 2013 earnings growth will be modest. The target is also trimmed by $1, to $7.

Mylan Labs (MYL): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Equal-Weight from Overweight.

Oil Services: Cameron International (CAM) and Halliburton (HAL) are each now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Tenaris (TS): Barclays takes TS to Equal Weight from Overweight.

United Microelectronics (UMC): Credit Suisse cuts the company to Neutral from Outperform.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Love in the Air for Southwest and New Stock Coverage: Absolutely No Cause for Alarm at ADT.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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