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Stock Upgrades: Delta Airlines Flying High

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

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Boston, whose focus was firmly on ailing planes that couldn't fly earlier in the week, yesterday turned its attention to the flu. And so Boeing (BA) subsequently got off the floor, adding 3.55% to lead the Dow (^DJI) higher. The company was long indelibly associated with Seattle but that city's current king is Amazon (AMZN), which rose to another all-time high on an upbeat analyst initiation. Boeing is now based in Chicago, a city famous for a goat as any Cubs fan can tell you. Mark Zuckerberg has been know to kill a goat or two but his stock is now killing it after Facebook (FB) surged 5.26% to end above $30 for first time in six months. Stryker (SKY), which makes replacement knees, gained 2.47% to a fresh 52-week peak after an earnings update. Unfortunately not nearly enough of us are going down on one knee, if today's 8.63% implosion in wedding ring king Tiffany (TIF) is any indication.

Today in economics, November wholesale trade inventories are expected to tick up slightly at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Earnings activity sees Emmis Communications (EMMS), MSC Industrial Direct (MSM), Supervalu (SVU), Synnex (SNX), Washington Federal (WAFD), and Xyratex (XRTX) all release results.

ACE Limited (ACE): The insurance outfit is moved to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo, which is impressed with its diversified business mix.

Alkermes (ALKS): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Overweight from Equal-Weight.

Altria Group (MO): Highlighting an increasingly compelling valuation, Stifel Nicolaus takes the tobacco titan to Buy from Hold with a $36 target.

Credit Suisse (CS): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Nomura.

Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) Shares, trading at fresh 52-week peaks, are up again this morning on an unusual 180 degree (Buy-from-Sell) boost at Goldman Sachs, which cites improving international traffic and cost cutting efforts. Its price objective is $15.90.

Essex Property Trust (ESS): The REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) is raised to Buy from Hold with a $160 objective at KeyBanc.

News Corp. (NWSA): The media giant is also higher in pre-market activity after an Outperform-from-Market Perform boost by Sanford Bernstein due to cash deployment opportunities and an upcoming split capitalization.

Philips Electronics (PHG): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifted the Dutch firm to Buy from Neutral, sending its shares sharply higher in today's European trading.

Ryder System (R): The company, best known for its bright yellow trucks, is now Buy from Neutral with a $63 target price at Goldman, which expects it to benefit from increased rental and leasing activity as economic growth improves.

Standard Chartered (PINK:SCBFF): The British bank is up in London after getting a Buy-from-Hold boost at Société Générale.

Wynn Resorts (WYNN): Lazard lifts the casino company to Buy from Neutral.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: AIG Told to Take a Hike and New Stock Coverage: LinkedIn Really Working Out.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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