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Stock Downgrades: Brazil's World Cup Year Is No Time to Own GOL

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

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It was another sheepish session in US equities, even as the wolf of Wall Street tried to stir things up. I refer not to Jordan Belfort, who is in fact impressively well-groomed, but rather Carl Icahn, who really needs to do something about his nose hair and out-of-control eyebrows. (If it's any consolation, as Luna Innovations (NASDAQ:LUNA) just jumped some 89.39%, he can continue profitably howling at the moon.) Mr. Icahn helped send Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) up 0.44% after the activist investor announced an increased investment in the tech titan on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR). Thus, even as Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) dropped again, Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) hit its highest level since July 17, 2000. That distant day's headlines informed us, "Verizon (NYSE:VZ) Launches Web Service for Wireless Phones," in an article that included an antediluvian mention of "electronic mail." Time, alas, has not been kind to the telecom outfit, as an equity analyst downgrade saw it slip 0.78%. At least Netflix's (NASDAQ:NFLX) Reed Hastings did his level best to enliven analyst calls, which are invariably deadly dull. And on a day John Thain, he of the $1.2 million furniture bill, saw his CIT Group (NYSE:CIT) attract additional analyst coverage, Janet Yellen announced she wants to be addressed as "chair." For what it's worth, Ethan Allen Interiors (NYSE:ETH) announced a revenue miss yesterday afternoon.

The pace of economic data that may move US stock markets picks up after a quiet start to the week, with December 2013 existing home sales and last month's leading indicators each out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Regarding specific stocks, expect Altera (NASDAQ:ALTR), Baxter International (NYSE:BAX), Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR), Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF), Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), and Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP) to release results.

American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO): Citing CEO uncertainty and turnaround efforts that remain very much up in the air, Stifel cuts the clothing company to Hold from Buy.

Coach (NYSE:COH): A day late and umpteen dollars short? The stock, which slumped 6.03% yesterday, is today taken to Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie.

Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Equal Weight from Overweight.

eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY): eBay Inc. stock is up before the bell on Carl Ichan's split proposals, but Stifel is cutting the online auctioneer to Hold from Buy. A less attractive risk:reward ratio is cited.

First Midwest Bancorp (NASDAQ:FMBI): The financial firm gets cut to Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette.

Genpact (NYSE:G): Shares are slashed to Sell from Neutral at Goldman Sachs, which takes its target price to $15 from $18.

Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes (GOL): Own goal or own GOL? Perhaps the former, for this air carrier based in fútbol-crazed São Paulo sees its stock reduced to Perform from Outperform at Raymond James.

HollyFrontier (NYSE:HFC): Shares are now Perform from Outperform, again at Raymond James.

Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ:LAMR): Citigroup lowers LAMR to Neutral from Buy.

Rowan Companies (NYSE:RDC): RDC gets reduced to Neutral from Buy at UBS. Its price objective, previously $43, is cut by $10.

SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK): Shares are now Buy from Strong Buy at Needham

Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM): Deutsche Bank downgrades the tech name to Hold from Buy.

Vitamin Shoppe (NYSE:VSI): The company can't currently afford to buy a vowel after getting moved to Market Perform from Outperform with William Blair.

See also:

Stock Upgrades: Netflix Doesn't Need Robin Hood When It Has Robin Wright

New Stock Coverage: World Wrestling Entertainment Is Real, and It's Spectacular
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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