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Upgrades and Downgrades: BP Gets a Shot at Redemption


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


The S&P 500 Index increased 1.71% for its seventh straight winning week, a streak not seen since May 2007, after being bolstered by strong showings in energy and financial equities. While Wall Street may be in fine shape, the disconnect between its home city and the wider world was never more apparent than with the Big Apple offering cut-price pizza even as ominous food riots start to spread elsewhere. Corn prices hit 29-month highs of $6.495 a bushel after the Department of Agriculture cut its fall harvest estimates for the largest US crop. The Cornhusker State had further cause for celebration when 17 year old Teresa Scanlan won Miss America, complete with its $50,000 scholarship. She thus presumably won't have to pay tuition a buck at a time, as one student is doing amid ever increasing signs of an uptick in inflation.

Apple (AAPL), which recently had issues with its alarm, was 24 hours ago a major cause for one even as investors were otherwise intending to sleep in on a public holiday. One to mark Martin Luther King Jr, whose official memorial is two years behind schedule, still in search of $10 million, and -- like much else in this country -- made in China. Which should make Beijing happy as its premier aims to show Hu's boss at the start of a state visit to Washington D.C. (In the unlikely event the Communist country's head is inclined to read the world's foremost testament to capitalism, he will find a suddenly business friendly Obama among its Op-Ed pages this morning.) The day's other events include earnings out of Apple, Charles Schwab (SCHW), Citigroup (C), Delta Air Lines (DAL), Forest Labs (FRX), International Business Machines (IBM), and TD Ameritrade (AMTD).

Initiations (YOKU): The stock is a new Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

E-Commerce China Dangdang (DANG): E-Commerce China Dangdang is picked up at a Neutral at Piper Jaffray, which has a $30 price target.

Syngenta (SYT): Boutique brokerage Collins Stewart starts Syngenta at a Buy.

Republic First Bancorp (FRC): The stock is initiated with a Neutral and $33 price objective at JP Morgan.


BP Plc (BP): The stock has its rating raised to Buy from Hold at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Molex (MOLX): MOLX is moved to Overweight from Underweight at JP Morgan.

McDonald's (MCD): Key Dow component McDonald's is upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital, which has an objective of $85.

KLA-Tencor (KLAC): The stock is taken to Outperform from Neutral by BNP Paribas.

Smith & Nephew (SNN): SNN is now Market Perform from Underperform by Sanford Bernstein. Its price objective is $55.50.

Logitech International (LOGI): Citing the benefits of exposure to smartphone and tablets among other favorable factors, Goldman lifts Logitech International to Neutral from Sell.

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (CCH): CCH gets a Buy-from-Hold boost at Deutsche Bank.

Ryanair (RYAAY): HSBC raises its Ryanair recommendation to Overweight from Neutral.

Nationwide Health Properties (NHP): The stock is now Buy from Hold at Citigroup.

Silvercorp Metals (SVM): SVM gets upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform by BMO Capital.

ARM Holdings (ARMH): Goldman gives ARM Holdings an increase to Buy from Neutral.

ENI S.p.A (E): The Royal Bank of Scotland raises its rating on ENI S.p.A to Buy from Hold.

Patriot Coal (PCX): The stock is now Neutral from Sell at Goldman. See also Two ETFs to Play Coal's Rising Appeal.

Symantec (SYMC): SYMC is boosted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Sunstone Hotel Investors (SHO): The stock gets upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette.

Convergys (CVG): CVG is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral by brokers Robert W. Baird, which takes its 12-month price target to $17 from $13 on a belief industry trends are showing some improvement.

Cameco (CCJ): CCJ is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie. Also read The Rendezvous Date for Junior Uranium Miners in Wyoming.

EMC Corp (EMC): The stock is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital.

Lockheed Martin (LMT): Cowen & Company lifts Lockheed Martin to Outperform from Neutral.


Yahoo (YHOO): Morgan Stanley moves Yahoo to Equal Weight from Overweight with a $19 target price.

ASML International (ASMI): Goldman gives a Sell-from-Neutral cut to ASML International amid the prospect of a semiconductor capital expenditure downturn in 2012.

Humana (HUM): HUM gets cut to Sell from Neutral at Goldman.

Lloyds Banking (LYG): BNP Paribas lowers Lloyds Banking to Neutral from Outperform.

Prudential (PUK): Staying overseas, Britain's Prudential is now Reduce from Neutral at Nomura.

Southwestern Energy (SWN): SWN is now Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie.

Financial Stocks: Invesco (IVZ) is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Citigroup, which takes both Janus Capital (JNS) and AllianceBernstein (AB) to Sell from Hold.

Danone (DANOY): The stock is downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

France Telecom (FTE): Societe Generale takes France Telecom to Hold from Buy.

Virgin Media (VMED): The stock is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Arch Coal (ACI): Goldman cuts Arch Coal to Sell from Neutral. (SINA): SINA is now Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna.

BHP Billiton (BHP): Mining giant BHP Billiton is cut to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Tim Hortons (THI): The stock is taken to ector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Abbott Labs (ABT): ABT gets lowered to Outperform from Top Pick at RBC Capital. For related content, see Cumberland's Crafty Move.

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