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Stock Downgrades: Oil's Not Well at Exxon

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

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Spooked by the Fed's fast-approaching tapir - best known for its prodigious schnozzle - US stock markets once again failed to pass the smell test. Although, as fertilizer firm CF Industries (NYSE:CF) topped the entire S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) with its 10.68% surge, that may be just as well. "Love Stinks" was riding high in the charts in May 1980, and yesterday new-home sales saw their steepest increase since that distant month. This, along with robust private-sector job growth announced by Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ:ADP), is what had good-news-is-bad-news Wall Street so concerned. Incidentally, ADP's passwords were just brutally compromised. These permutations really are far too easy for a hack to crack, invariably being an easily-guessable variation on the name of your significant other or sports team. (Although, admittedly, for the really life-or-death stuff like the Nuclear Launch Code, they tend to be utterly impenetrable, like "00000000"). Among stocks in the news, an iconic tech firm from Ontario, lately having fallen on hard times, tumbled another 2.54%. This after Reuters ran a headline informing us "BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) is 'here to stay', interim CEO tells customers." Surely the immediate proximity of words five and six in that sentence are a little ironic, no? Even Ottawa's own Alanis Morissette - whose "Ironic" was notably irony-free - can see that.

In terms of economic events that may move US markets today, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern consensus calls for a fall in October factory orders. Regarding specific stocks, Conn's (NASDAQ:CONN), Dollar General (NYSE:DG), Finisar (NASDAQ:FNSR), Jos A Bank (NASDAQ:JOSB), Kroger (NYSE:KR), Pacific Sunwear of California (NASDAQ:PSUN), Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE:RY), Smithfield Foods (NYSE:SFD), Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE:TD), Ulta Salon (NASDAQ:ULTA), and Zumiez (NASDAQ:ZUMZ) are all due to release quarterly results.

Alkermes (NASDAQ:): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Citigroup (NYSE:C): A second downgrade in as many days for the firm, today taken to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings (NYSE:CCO): B. Riley reduces its rating to Sell from Neutral.

Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM): Exxon Mobil stock gets taken to Outperform from Strong Buy at Raymond James. Exxon Mobil is a member of the Dow.

J.M. Smucker (NYSE:SJM): Peanut-butter powerhouse J.M. Smucker stock is moved to Underperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS): Deutsche slashes the stock of its fellow financial firm Morgan Stanley to Hold from Buy.

Tesco (OTCMKTS:TSCDY): The British grocer gets downgraded to Hold from Buy at Panmure.

Tumi Holdings (NYSE:TUMI): Goldman Sachs takes the luxury luggage stock off of its Conviction Buy list.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Oracle Is as Happy as Larry and Stock Upgrades: Tiffany Running Rings Around the Competition)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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