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New Stock Coverage: Pandora Stuck in the Penalty Box?

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

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Yesterday was your last chance to see "The Scream", an iconic painting of existential angst that dates, as does the Dow (^DJI), from the mid-1890s. Thankfully, however, there was no need for similar investor anxiety on this side of the Atlantic as equities again reached records. (Even if the compatriots of painter Edvard Munch could be excused for freaking out after Norway's market posted the poorest performance in all of Europe.)

Elsewhere, continental bourses got a boost from favorable political developments in Italy. Indeed Silvio Berlusconi had more reasons than most to celebrate, with his Mediaset (PINK:MDIUY) surging 4.68%. Impressive, although the somnambulant former prime minister would surely be better advised to put his money in mattresses.

In ancient Rome they once asked: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?", or "Who will guard the guards?" Moody's (MCO), controversial arbiter of financial crisis-era ratings, couldn't care less after jumping 8.29% to top the S&P 500 (^GSPC). Stateside stocks scored a boost from a 7% annual increase in sales for pending homes. (Holmes did tell us all about The Seven Percent Solution.)

Underwear maker Hanesbrands (HBI) rode a Barron's boost to take its 12-month advance to 71.24%. Gwyneth Paltrow, who now regrets not wearing any to the premiere of Iron Man 3, can at least console herself with an upgrade inspired 1.83% increase in Walt Disney (DIS).

Today in economics, analysts anticipate increases in both April's Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index at 9:45 a.m. Eastern and this month's Conference Board consumer sentiment survey at 10:00 a.m. In Washington DC, the Federal Open Market Committee starts its two-day policy setting session. On the corporate front, earnings are expected out of Aetna (AET), BP Plc (BP), Cummins (CMI), DreamWorks Animation (DWA), Legg Mason (LM), Office Depot (ODP), NYSE Euronext (NYX), Pfizer (PFE), Sirius XM Radio (SIRI), and UBS AG (UBS).

Active Power (ACPW): Shares are initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant Capital Markets, whose price target is $5.25. Cleaner electrical energy is seen as a catalyst.

Akamai Technologies (AKAM): The stock is a Buy at MKM Partners.

CenterPoint (CNP): KeyBanc Capital Markets covers the company at a Buy.

Circor (CIR): Shares are a new Neutral at Ascendiant Capital Markets.

Magnegas (MNGA): The microcap is a new Outperform at Northland Capital, whose price objective is $4.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage (NGVC): Longbow gives the grocery store outfit a Neutral rating.

Otter Tail Corporation (OTTR): The diversified utility is a Hold at KeyBanc.

Pandora Media (NYSE:P): Shares, up 55.63% in the past year, are only a Sector Perform at RBC Capital. Its target is $16.

Rosetta Resources (ROSE): ROSE is resumed with an Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Solar Senior Capital (SUNS): Shares are initiated with a Buy at Ladenburg Thalmann.

United Natural Foods (UNFI): Shares are launched with a Neutral at Longbow.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: There's Never Been a Better Time to Buy Best Buy and Stock Downgrades: Buffalo Wild Wings Shuffles Off Into the Sunset.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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