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Upgrades & Downgrades: TripAdvisor not Going Anywhere for a While


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

Easily shrugging off a steeper downward revision to US third quarter Gross Domestic Product than economists anticipated, stocks rose for a third straight session. This as initial unemployment claims, which economists expected to increase, instead fell to their lowest level since April of 2008 while consumer confidence, hitting a six-month high, and leading indicators both came in better than economists called for. (They say economists were invented to make weather men look good. Since our meteorological mystics have just thrown in the towel trying to predict hurricanes, might it now be time for financial forecasters employed in the dismal science to follow suit and stay away from making prophecies?) Bank of America (BAC), worst Dow (^DJI) stock of the year, was the best blue chip of the day, gaining 4.49% in a strong financial sector, and McDonald's (MCD), best Dow stock of the year, slipped 0.60% to post the index's worst performance. The strongest Dow stock of December? That would be General Electric (GE), which jumped an additional 3.03%. The company, fresh from hosting an investor meeting at the headquarters of Saturday Night Live, is clearly laughing all the way to the bank. Reports declaring the "end of coal" may be a mite premature if a 6.88% surge in Patriot Coal (PCX) is anything to go on, to say nothing of that charcoal portrait of a lady (Gaga, in this case) which just made big bucks on eBay Inc (EBAY).

Elsewhere China's online matchmaking service International (DATE) advanced 11.81%, although, with upwards of 24 million of its men unable to march down the aisle, one wonders why. An upbeat analyst initiation sent shares of bowling behemoth Brunswick (BC) 3.85% higher. President Obama has yet to comment on that recent remodeling of a Florida bowling alley but, as our fourth best president, whose main objective must always be job creation, he will be troubled by a 14.81% fall in office cubicle inventor Herman Miller Inc (MLHR), making it the Nasdaq's fourth worst performer. And American Greetings (AM) tumbled 21.14% to a new low after Sarah Palin left the Oval Office occupant off her Christmas card list. In return, Obama apparently sent her some shares of Alaska Communications (ALSK), just before they imploded 23.69%. It's a predictably light session for corporate earnings ahead of the NYSE's three-day weekend, and the bond market is due to close early at 2:00 p.m. Eastern today. This morning in economics, analysts expect an increase in November new home sales at 10:00 a.m.


TripAdvisor (TRIP): The online travel outfit, recently spun-off from Expedia Inc(EXPE), is rated a new Neutral at UBS.

Trius Therapeutics (TSRX): Robert W. Baird initiates an Outperform on the equity and establishes a price objective of $13. The broker believes lead product tedizolid can eventually gain a foothold in the MRSA hospital infections market.


Talisman Energy (TLM): Susquehanna takes TLM up to Positive from Neutral.


American Greetings (AM): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Northcoast Securities after yesterday's steep slide.

City Holding Co (CHCO): Stifel Nicolaus cuts CHCO to Hold from Buy solely due to valuation as the recent price gain has left the shares trading roughly in line with its $35 target price.

RAM Energy Resources (RAM): Rodman & Renshaw reduces its recommendation on the small cap stock to Market Perform from Outperform after yesterday's 83% stock price surge.

Magma Design (LAVA): DA Davidson downgrades LAVA to Neutral from Buy with a $7.35 target price in the wake of an acquisition offer from Synopsys (SNPS). The broker does not now believe that there is a large likelihood of a competing offer.

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