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Upgrades & Downgrades: General Electric Gets a Jolt

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Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

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Stocks surged, the Dow's best day since July taking it back above 10,000 as gold rallied for a fourth straight session (see Why Gold Could Still Triple From Here). US worker productivity posted its biggest back to back gains since the start of the Sixties, which was one two-timing, three-martini lunch era not noted for its productivity, at least as depicted in Mad Men. Gibraltar Industries (ROCK) (+23.44%) was a rock while Prudential Financial (PRU) (-4.12%) sunk like a stone as insurance lagged. Abercrombie (ANF) (up 3.87% in spite of iffy October sales) & Fitch attracted attention. It's been a boffo week for The Boss but times are far from flush for worker bees - see today's increase in the October unemployment rate to 10.2%, a level last seen in April 1983 (read Six Ways We're Stifling the Unemployed). Expect earnings out of AIG (AIG), Blackstone (BX), British Airways (BAY), Edison International (EIX), and Hermes.

Initiations

Miscellaneous: Jefferies initiates a whole host of equities, including Agilent (A) (Buy; $40 price target), Becton Dickinson (BDX) (Buy; $100), Mettler-Toledo (MTD) (Buy; $125), Millipore (MIL) (Buy; $85), Sigma-Aldrich (SIAL) (Hold; $54), and Thermo Fisher (TMO) (Hold; $50).

Upgrades

General Electric (GE): The stock is boosted by both Oppenheimer (Outperform from Perform; objective of $18) and Sanford Bernstein (Outperform from Market Perform; $19).

Amazon.com (AMZN): Bernstein also raises its Amazon.com rating (Outperform from Market Perform) and takes its target to $160 from $125. See also Two Ways to Play: Holiday Price Wars Begin.

CBS (CBS): Piper Jaffray upgrades CBS to Neutral from Underweight after yesterday's good gain in the name.

Taser (TASR): Taser hopes to be number one with a bullet after an Overweight-from-Neutral upgrade at JP Morgan.

Macy's (M): JP Morgan also increases Macy's (Overweight from Neutral).

Housing: Lennar (LEN) (Outperform form Neutral) and Meritage Homes (MTH) (Neutral from Underperform) are both lifted at Credit Suisse.

Downgrades

The Knot (KNOT): Kaufman Brothers isn't married to The Knot, cutting the online wedding planner to Hold from Buy ($11 target) on a near-term overhang related to its Macy's relationship.

Medical Properties Trust (MPW): Stifel Nicolaus moves Medical Properties Trust to Hold from Buy and establishes a price objective of $9 following the company's disappointing third quarter results.

Aeropostale (ARO): The retailer gets cut to Neutral from Buy by UBS on an October comps deceleration. See also Mulling the Market Reaction to Same-Store Sales.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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