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New Stock Coverage: JPMorgan Will Survive Its Weekend at Bernie's

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

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Baby, it's cold outside but baby, you're the one. As America froze, the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) advanced exactly 11.11 points in posting its first increase of the year as US stock markets belatedly warmed up. The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI), up by triple-digits, also enjoyed easily its strongest showing of 2014, although no thanks to JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM). It dropped 1.15% to lead blue-chip laggards after coughing up another two billion bucks, this time for its hanky panky with Bernard Madoff. Jamie Dimon, who once walked on water, thus finds himself increasingly under fire. His Flint, Michigan-dissing daughter, meanwhile, promises to one day actually visit the object of her ire. Why not yesterday? The Ponzi schemer is currently serving a 150-year prison term and, in the current climate, he is clearly better off behind bars. Bernie, while parting people from their lifelong savings in the Lipstick Building, was once chairman of Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC). As such, he must be heartened to hear that yesterday the index's top stock was Neurocrine Biosciences (NASDAQ:NBIX), whose tardive dyskinesia treats involuntary lip smacking. Faring far less well was GameStop (NYSE:GME), which imploded 8.37% amid increased competition from Sony (NYSE:SNE). The latter's PlayStation is to die for, tragically, and all too literally - even in the pacifist heartland of San Francisco, where hippies once put "flowers in your hair" during the Summer of Love.

In terms of events that may move US stock markets today, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern we will get minutes to the Fed's December 17-18, 2013 meeting, at which it announced the beginning of the end for its bond-buying binge. At 3:00 p.m., analysts expect November 2013 consumer credit to contract from the prior month's pace. Regarding specific stocks, AZZ Incorporated (NYSE:AZZ), Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY), Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ), Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO), Monsanto (NYSE:MON), Ruby Tuesday (NYSE:RT), and Texas Industries (NYSE:TXI) are all due to release results.

AFC Enterprises (NASDAQ:AFCE): Shares are initiated with an Outperform at Wedbush, whose price objective is $46. AFC Enterprises owns Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits.

Big Banks: Recently-surging Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is begun with a Buy rating and $19 target price at Jefferies, which has a Hold and $60 objective on Citigroup (NYSE:C).

Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL): The stock is an Overweight at Atlantic Equities.

Fast Food: Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) are each Outperforms at Credit Suisse.

Fast Food: Wendy's (NASDAQ:WEN) is started with a Sell at UBS, but the bank is more bullish on Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD) and McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), both Buy rated. (Note that McDonald's was separately downgraded this morning.)

Firearms Firms: CRT Capital covers Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ:SWHC) and Sturm Ruger (NYSE:RGR) with Buys on both. Its respective price objectives are $16 and $85.

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM): That 1989 film was quite funny, but yesterday's record $2.5 billion fine for its role in the Bernie Madoff debacle was no laughing matter for JPMorgan Chase. Still, stock in the key Dow component is today started with a bullish Buy at Jefferies. Its price objective is $66.

Oramed Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ORMP): Shares are begun with a Buy at MLV & Co, which cites its oral versions of exenatide and insulin.

Ruckus Wireless (NYSE:RKUS): Ruckus Wireless stock is resumed with an Outperform recommendation and $18 price objective with Wedbush.

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX): Credit Suisse covers Starbucks stock with an Outperform opinion and $96 price target.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Kraft Foods, Still the Big Cheese, Living Velveeta Loca and Stock Downgrades: McDonald's Cries Tears of a Clown)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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