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New Stock Coverage: Get Your Kicks With Manchester United

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

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With shares ending lower amid the most anemic volume of 2013, no wonder traders couldn't wait to see the closing belles. Markets moved to the downside after Goldman Sachs (GS), which appears to be forever caught between saying good buy and goodbye to equities, plumped for Fat Tuesday Eve to announce that we "will need time to digest the recent gains."

Some stocks did buck a bad tape. AOL Inc. (AOL) surged 7.44% after an analyst upgrade, even if its Huffington Post presently lists "Taylor Swift Disses Ex in a Big Way" and "Katy Perry's Boob Window" among its "Most Popular" items, with this morning's thermonuclear test out of North Korea apparently meriting far fewer clicks. Who needs Kim Jong-un when you've got Kim Kardashian as Search Engine Optimization Catnip? Except that the dictator in Pyongyang appears to be an infallible stock picker. No sooner does his father get embalmed in a khaki jumpsuit than Gap Inc. (GPS) - up 1.09% yesterday - suddenly finds itself back in fashion. And Nike (NKE) - beloved of his countrymen - just rose 1.15% after receiving a ratings increase.

It's another quite quiet day in economic data, but corporate earnings announcements are expected out of América Móvil (AMX), Avon Products (AVP), Barclays (BCS), Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD), Clearwire (CLWR), Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF), Coca-Cola (KO), Fossil (FOSL), Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT), Huntsman (HUN), Level 3 Communications (LVLT), McGraw-Hill (MHP), Michael Kors (KORS), Rackspace (RAX), and ThyssenKrupp (PINK:TYEKF).

Aerospace/Defense: BAE Systems (PINK:BAESY) is trading lower in London today after being rated no better than a new Neutral at JPMorgan, which rolls out Overweight research on rival European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company EADS (PINK:EADSY).

Biotechnology: Idenix Pharmaceuticals (IDIX) is a new Neutral at Robert W. Baird, which assigns it a price objective of $5. The broker is more upbeat on Outperform-rated Theravance (THRX), whose target is $27. They expect a positive FDA (Food and Drug Administration) advisory committee meeting on March 7 for its key product, with subsequent approval arriving by May 12 to send shares above $30.

Chesapeake Energy (CHK): Barclays begins Equal Weight coverage on CHK.

Cincinnati Bell (CBB): Shares are resumed with an Underperform at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, while Deutsche Bank has a marginally more upbeat assessment of Hold.

CyrusOne (CONE): Morgan Stanley starts the stock at Equal-Weight and Raymond James has an Outperform.

DuPont (DD): The Dow (^DJI) component is covered at Equal Weight by Barclays.

Legacy Reserves (LGCY): Barclays launches LGCY at Overweight.

Macy's (M): The retailer is begun with a Buy at Maxim, whose price target is $50. Online sales are seen driving same store sales.

Manchester United (NYSE:MANU): The storied soccer club, recently trading at post-IPO (Initial Public Offering) peaks, is picked up with an Outperform at Raymond James ahead of tomorrow's eagerly awaited match up with Real Madrid.

Navios Maritime Partners (NMM): The company is begun with a Buy at Citigroup.

Nike (NKE): NKE is a new Neutral with Wedbush, whose target is $56.

Rolls Royce (PINK:RYCEY): JPMorgan starts the stock at Overweight.

SunCoke Energy Partners (SXCP): The stock is a new Neutral at JPMorgan.

United Rentals (URI) Shares of the equipment leasing outfit are a fresh Buy at Bank of America-Merrill.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: With a Name Like Smucker's, It Has to Be Good and Stock Downgrades: Facebook Fatigue Becoming Epidemic.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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