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Stock Downgrades: 3D Systems at Sixes and Sevens After Analyst Does a 180


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

The unending allure of capitalism is such that escaping refugees will still windsurf shark-infested waters from Havana to Florida, and never the other way around. Still, last week wasn't mammon's finest, with Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) dropping 0.32% in four holiday-truncated sessions. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC), now up three straight weeks, fared better in advancing 0.46%. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) helped the tech-heavy index, increasing 2.2% after buying Whatsapp for $19 billion in the biggest Internet industry deal since that ill-fated marriage of AOL Inc. (NYSE:AOL) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) in 2000. Last week's acquisition had Henry Blodget saying, "I think the odds are that it will end up looking brilliant." (Fourteen years ago this very day, when still an equity analyst, he opined of what would become the most catastrophic corporate merger in history, "The combined company is well-positioned to benefit from the ongoing impact of the Internet on the global media industries." Well. Let's not be too cynical, however, for this one is already off to a terrific start.) Janet Yellen, showing she is a stand-up comedian as well as a "sensible central banker," cracked wise during the economic implosion of September 2008. The new Fed head said that Silicon Valley-area "plastic surgeons...note that patients are deferring elective procedures." Certainly, area resident Elon Musk resolutely refuses to fix his man boobs, and who can blame him after Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) gained 5.7% to hit the highest level in its history?

There aren't any top-tier economic data due today, but corporate earnings announcements are expected out of Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ:PANW), Hertz Global (NYSE:NTZ), and HSBC Holdings (NYSE:HSBC). (NASDAQ:AMZN): Standpoint Research slashes its rating to Strong Sell from Sell, sending shares down a smidgeon in today's pre-market trading.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL): The tech titan is taken to Strong Sell from Sell, again at Standpoint.

Container Store (NYSE:TCS): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers the company to Underperform from Neutral.

3D Systems (NYSE:DDD): This 3-D printing powerhouse, a momentum darling whose stock has surged some 112.66% in the past year, may be at sixes and sevens today. Indeed its shares are already falling 4.24% as we speak, this after getting an unusual 180 degree (Underperform from Buy) downgrade at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Extra Space Storage (NYSE:EXR): The industrial Real Estate Investment Trust gets taken to Neutral from Buy at ISI Group, whose highly regarded REIT team have topped the Institutional Investor magazine rankings of equity analysts in recent years.

Halliburton (NYSE:HAL): Wells Fargo moves the oil services outfit to Market Perform from Outperform.

Hibbett Sports (NASDAQ:HIBB): Shares are slashed to Sell from Hold at Stifel.

Forest Labs (NYSE:FRX): The firm, whose stock surged 36% last week after being bought, is no longer trading on fundamentals. As such, Credit Suisse cuts its investment opinion to Neutral from Outperform. Its amended price objective is $96.

Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM): Standpoint Research reduces the cigarette stock to Strong Sell from Sell.

Sunoco Logistics (NYSE:SXL): UBS lowers the limited partnership to Neutral from Buy, and also pulls it from the firm's list of Top Picks.

Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE:TD): TD gets taken to Neutral from Buy at its fellow financial firm Citigroup.

United States Steel (NYSE:X): KeyBanc cuts the commodity company to Hold from Buy.

Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VLKAY): Double trouble for the German car giant today, downgraded by both Bank of America-Merrill (Neutral from Buy) and Barclays (Equal Weight from Overweight.)

See also:

New Stock Coverage: Can Kate Upton Help Target Stock Defy Gravity? (MVPRO article)

Stock Upgrades: Good Things Are on Tap at Molson Coors (MVPRO article)
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