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Stock Upgrades: Love in the Air for Southwest

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

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By the time yoga darling Lululemon Athletica (LULU) brought proceedings to a close, equities had adopted a distinct downward dog pose. Markets incurred their worst losses of this still embryonic year, with financials again to the fore. Bank of America (BAC), wishing to put a mortgage mess behind it, paid Fannie Mae in the hope it all would go away. (It apparently misheard Wall Street's most widely used cliché.) The financial firm once famously foreclosed on itself but it has nothing on American International Group (AIG). That star-crossed organization is all set to sue Uncle Sam even as its "Thank You America" ads are still on the air. Elsewhere dental implant outfit Henry Schein (HSIC) put its money where its mouth is, hitting the highest level in its history after an analyst upgrade. If only our Mayan friends, who invented the device, were still around to enjoy it.

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.

AptarGroup (ATR): Shares are raised to Outperform from Neutral at Robert W. Baird, which also increases its price objective to $58 from $53. Catalysts include cost savings from its current European asset optimization plan.

Celgene (CELG): The stock, a strong performer yesterday, gets increased to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray.

Dover (DOV): DOV is upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight with Morgan Stanley.

Equity Residential (EQR): Jefferies raises the Real Estate Investment Trust to Buy from Hold.

FMC Technologies (FTI): Sterne Agee boosts the stock to Buy from Neutral.

Joy Global (JOY): Piper Jaffray juices JOY to Overweight from Neutral, sending shares higher ahead of the open, amid expectations coal demand in China will enjoy a revival. Its target is also taken up, by $21 to $84.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR): The money manager is moved to Buy from Neutral with a $19.50 target at Goldman Sachs, which cites a strong balance sheet and cash carry potential.

Landstar System (LSTR): LSTR gets lifted to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Manulife Financial (MFC): The insurance name is now Buy from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

MGM Resorts International (MGM): Credit Suisse raises its recommendation to Outperform from Neutral.

MKS Instruments (MKSI): Bank of America-Merrill boosts the equity to Buy from Neutral.

Parker-Hannifin (PH): The industrial equipment outfit is upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight with JPMorgan.

Rowan Cos (RDC): JPMorgan moves the oil services firm to Neutral from Underweight.

Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV): Shares, trading at fresh 52-week peaks, are upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank. Tailwinds include benefits from its AirTran acquisition, and the target is taken to $15 from $11.

Turkcell (TKC): HBBC Securities hoists the stock to Overweight from Neutral and increases its target price to $19.50 from $17.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Boeing Going, Going, Gone and New Stock Coverage: Absolutely No Cause for Alarm at ADT.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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