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Stock Downgrades: AstraZeneca Cools Footsie as Pfizer Gets Cold Feet


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

Just in time for June wedding season, AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) is giving London's "Footsie" cold feet after being brutally abandoned at the altar. The British drugmaker is presently the poorest performer on London's FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) today after fellow pharmaceutical firm Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) officially ended a 69.4-billion-pound ($120 billion) bid for its transatlantic rival. As for key Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) component Pfizer, its shares are edging up 0.68% ahead of the opening bell.
A week that began with Raging Bull being brought before the highest court in the land ended with Wall Street's aging bull hitting an all-time high. The S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) finished Friday at a fresh best in enjoying its first ever close above 1900. Railroad stocks Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) and Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP) rose to records in a surging Transportation (INDEXDJX:DJT) tape. I would thus say that trains win out over spaghetti junctions any day, but then again, maybe not. (This, even as Unilever (NYSE:UN) sold Ragù and Bertolli pasta sauce for a tidy $2.15 billion.) A fabled French economist was undone by nit-Piketty arithmetic errors, and his jealous rivals were unable even to shed phony tears as a 264-pound accountant crushed a 6.5-foot crocodile. Budget British carrier Ryanair (NASDAQ:RYAAY), proponent of a preposterous fee to pee, jumped 13% but Barclays (NYSE:ADR) was fined $44 million for gold fixing even as it employed impeccable etiquette in its restrooms.
Today in economics, an improvement is expected in the Conference Board's May consumer confidence index at 10:00 a.m. EDT. On the corporate front, expect earnings announcements out of AutoZone (AZO), JinkoSolar (JKS), Qihoo 360 Technology (QIHU), Scotiabank (NYSE:BNS), and Workday (WDAY).

Now let's look at this morning's rating reductions, an eclectic bunch that features shipping and office supply stocks plus headline equity AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca: More Monday woe for the slumping stock, which is this morning cut by both Kepler Cheuvreux (Reduce from Hold) and Société Générale (Sell from Hold).
Ntelos Holdings (NASDAQ:NTLS): Shares are now Hold from Buy at Jefferies.
Oiltanking Partners (NYSE:OILT): MLV &Co lowers the limited partnership to Hold from Buy due to its excessive valuation.
Pharmacyclics (NASDAQ:PCYC): The stock is reduced to Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital amid upcoming issues. Its price objective, previously $115, falls to $95.
ResMed (NYSE:RMD): Northland Capital cuts the company to Underperform from Perform on account of its increasingly compressed margins.
SABMiller (OTCMKTS:SBMRY): The brewing behemoth gets slashed to Sell from Hold at Investec.
Smith & Nephew (NYSE:SNN): Investec reduces its recommendation to Hold from Buy.
Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS): Citing "structural challenges," Goldman Sachs gives the beleaguered stock a Sell-from-Neutral downgrade, sending shares off 1.63% before the bell. Its target price is also trimmed, to $11 from $11.50.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Papa Murphy's Is Your Sugar Daddy

Stock Upgrades: Time to Adopt the Cisco Kid
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