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Stock Downgrades: Sherwin-Williams Painting the Tape Red

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

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Stocks slipped, with the Nasdaq (^IXIC) falling for the first time in seven sessions, after Senator Harry Reid cautioned against "happy talk" on the fiscal cliff. This contrasts sharply with the situation in Greece, which has now been the subject of no fewer than four debt discussions in two weeks. (With so much hot air expended over Athens, no wonder a kid's helium balloon recently knocked out the country's entire radar system.)

Moving from the spoken to written word, newspaper powerhouse McClatchy (MNI) continued its stellar start to the week, advancing 4.00% to a fresh peak. Capitalists clearly haven't entirely abandoned its industry then, although communists in China were reduced to tears by an Onion. Beijing "fell for a satirical story," in the words of Chicago's Tribune, which itself has some experience in that matter.

Elsewhere Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), the king of flip-flops, dropped 2.98% to lead Dow (^DJI) decliners even as plastic clogs sent Crocs (CROX) stocks surging 9.23%.

Today in economics, analysts expect October new home sales to tick up at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, and the Fed releases its Beige Book outlining regional financial conditions at 2:00 p.m. On the earnings front, Aéropostale (ARO), American Eagle (AEO), Express Inc. (EXPR), Fresh Market (TFM), Guess (GES), Movado Group (MOV), Pall Corp. (PLL), rue21 (RUE), TiVo Inc. (TIV), and Workday (WDAY) are all due to reveal results.

Fred's Inc. (FRED): Citing a challenging general-merchandise backdrop among other concerns, SunTrust takes the stock to Neutral from Buy.

Meridian Bioscience (VIVO): The diagnostic firm gets downgraded to Underperform from Perform with Wedbush.

Oil Services: Ensco (ESV) and Rowan (RDC) are each reduced to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Ralcorp Holdings (RAH): The equity, no longer trading on fundamentals following yesterday's $5 billion buyout bid by ConAgra (CAG), is today taken to Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Seadrill Limited (SDRL): Shares get downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Sherwin-Williams (NYSE:SHW): The painting and coating powerhouse, whose stock has recently traded at historic highs, is now Neutral from Buy at Nomura.

The Fresh Market (TFM): Shares, tumbling 15% in pre-market activity, are taken to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank, which cites the surprise resignation of CFO Lisa Klinger. Its new objective is $54, down from $64.

Universal Technical Institute (UTI): UTI is moved Underperform from Market Perform by BMO Capital.

Windstream (WIN): The telecom name gets cut to Underweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray, which worries about dividend sustainability. Its price objective is also reduced, to $6.50 from $8.00.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Louis Vuitton Living Large in Luxury's Lap and New Stock Coverage: Amazon Is a Money Tree.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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