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Stock Downgrades: JC Penney Stops Making Cents

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

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL While the election and imminent fiscal cliff dominated proceedings here in the US, there was no lack of news abroad either. A new study showed Italian students hate math the most, and who can blame them when their country's economic figures make for such depressing reading. Italy's Mario Draghi intimated that Europe's woes are now starting to impact even supposed economic behemoth Berlin, where industrial output skidded 1.8% in September. This in a week when several celebrated Teutonic musicians were exposed as a fraud, in much the same way made-in-Munich duo Milli Vanilli were a generation earlier. Clearly where Germany is concerned, we shouldn't take apparent success at face value. "Germans will crawl *******-naked over broken glass to get low fares," according to Ryanair (RYAAY) CEO Michael O'Leary. Hopefully Angela Merkel & Co also own some shares in the budget Irish air carrier, after it bucked an otherwise awful week in equities to advance 8.4% week. China answered the age-old riddle as to "Hu's on first?" after the OECD said the Asian economy is poised to overtake America in 2016. This means Barack Obama will now preside over the first time the US has forfeited top spot since the late 18th century. Mind you, the delegates convened by President Hu in Beijing's Great Hall of the People last week didn't exactly appear all that excited at the prospect. A surprisingly lopsided Electoral College result spelled doom for Grand Canyon Education (LOPE), which went off its own fiscal cliff in imploding 8.6%. Our current Oval Office occupant was the first since FDR in the Depths of the Depression to be re-elected with unemployment hovering around 8%. The 1930s were when coupon-clipping came of age but there the similarities apparently end for Groupon (GRPN), which tumbled 27.9% to a new lifetime low. It's Veterans' Day, meaning banks and the bond market are both closed.

Noteworthy economic data is also conspicuous by its absence this morning, although quarterly earnings announcements are expected out of Ambow Education (AMBO), Beazer Homes(BZH), Cubic Corp (CUB), D.R. Horton (DHI), Einstein Noah Restaurant Group (BAGL), Hologic (HOLX), Inergy Midstream (NRGM), Jacobs Engineering Group(JEC), National Bank of Greece (NBG), Spanish Broadcasting System (SBSA),Weatherford International (WFT), and Zoom Technologies (ZOOM).

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY): The drug stock is downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

Caterpillar (CAT): The Dow (^DJI) component gets cut to Neutral from Buy at JPMorgan.

Garmin (GRMN): GRMN gets slashed to Sell from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) Credit Suisse cuts the company, which fell sharply last week, to Underperform from Perform.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): The Dow member gets moved to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

REITs: Kilroy Realty (KRC) and Vornado (VNO) are each cut to Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Ryanair (RYAAY): Citigroup cuts the low-cost Irish air carrier to Neutral from Buy after last week's strong showing.

Strayer Education (STRA): The stock is are moved to Neutral from Buy at JPMorgan.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Credit Suisse.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Amira Nature Foods Offers Good Organic Growth and Stock Upgrades: Cinderella Story for Disney.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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