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Stock Downgrades: MTV Owner Viacom Gets Punk'd


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL An upgrade of Isaac to a Category 1 hurricane from a tropical storm sent Chevron (CVX) up 0.55% in a strong energy sector. A downgrade of AK Steel (AKS) to Sell from Neutral sent it sliding 7.43%. Sanderson Farms (SAFM) increased 8.52%, but FarmVille owner Zynga (ZNGA) is falling ahead of the opening bell after its Chief Creative Officer announced his departure. And with drought affecting farms everywhere, the G20 expressed its "worry" over rising food prices. It did so on a conference call this time, which was probably for the best since when they met in person to talk about financial crisis of 2008, fruitwood-smoked quail with quince gastrique made a discordant appearance on the menu. Today in economics, pending home sales for July are announced at 10:00 a.m. Eastern and the Fed releases its regional financial survey known as the beige book at 2:00 p.m. In earnings action, Brown-Forman (BF-B), China Life Insurance (LFC), Flow International (FLOW), HJ Heinz (HNZ), Joy Global (JOY), Oxford Industries (OXM), Pandora (P), TiVo Inc. (TIVO), Vera Bradley Inc. (VRA), and Zale Corp. (ZLC) are all due to report results.

Amerigroup (AGP): AGP gets downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Monness Crespi.

Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS): Shares are now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse. Catalysts for the cut include reduced loan growth assumptions and valuation. The target is also taken up by $4 to $61.

Eaton Corp. (ETN): ETN is now Neutral from Buy at MKM Partners amid macro concerns. Its price objective is $50.

Lincoln Educational (LINC): Citing the company's enrollment challenges and low liquidity, Oppenheimer reduces its rating to Perform from Outperform.

L'Oréal (LRLCY): UBS lowers the cosmetics company to Neutral from Buy after its earnings announcement.

Movado (MOV): MOV is moved to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup after the watchmaker's recent parabolic share price surge.

Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG): PEG gets slashed to Sell from Hold at ISI Group due to a rich valuation and a shifting business mix.

Resolute Forest Products (RFP): Shares are taken to Reduce from Hold at TD Securities.

Schnitzer Steel (SCHN): Crédit Agricole cuts the commodity company to Sell from Underperform with a $25 target.

Viacom (VIAB): The media giant is lower before today's opening bell after being taken to Hold from Buy with Wunderlich, whose target is $53. Continued concerns regarding ratings at Nickelodeon and MTV are cited.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Underperforming Indian Outsourcer Wipro Moving From Slumdog to Millionaire? and New Stock Coverage: Diamond Offshore Drilling Sparkles Despite Isaac.)
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