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Stock Downgrades: The Bill Just Came Due for Herbalife

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

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The E TRADE (NASDAQ:ETFCbabies, in their last act before leaving us, muscled out Mother Russia. A 1.91% increase in the discount broker was indicative of a strong showing for financials and, at least temporarily, banished the festering Crimean crisis to the back burner. Thus did the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) recoup much of Wednesday's wobble, helped by a resurgent Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). It advanced another 2.70% to touch its highest since 2000, the year George Gored Al with his "fuzzy math." Spectacularly fuzzy math in Ireland couldn't gore the "Mother Merrill" Lynch bull as its parent Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) jumped 2.75% to hit levels unseen since the Great Recession. All this turning back time unfortunately did nothing for Guess (NYSE:GES), which famously outfitted Back to the Future. It gave back 3.41% after announcing iffy earnings. Al Gore's college roommate Tommy Lee Jones has no need to act like a grumpy cat ever again after his Ameriprise (NYSE:AMP) surged some 2.76%. And, on the day our frozen winter officially ended, an unloved Under Armour (NYSE:UAcontinued to speed skate on ultra-thin ice.
 
There won't be any top-tier economic reports released today, but quadruple-witching sessions rarely lack action. On the corporate front, Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) and Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) each announced earnings earlier this morning.
 
Albany Molecular Research (NASDAQ:AMRI): Sterne Agee slashes the stock to Underperform from Neutral.
 
Boeing (NYSE:BA): The key Dow component gets cut to Neutral from Buy by its fellow blue chip Goldman Sachs, sending it off 1.17% as we speak.
 
Burberry Group (OTCMKTS:BURBY): Concerned about the impact of a strengthening euro and British pound, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers the English luxury outfit to Neutral from Buy, sending it down in today's London trading.
 
ConAgra (NYSE:CAG): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs, which notes that the turnaround is taking quite some time.
 
Herbalife (NYSE:HLF): Bill Ackman's big short gets taken to Hold from Buy at Argus, which is concerned about the recently announced investigation into its business practices.
 
Lennar (NYSE:LEN): Susquehanna lowers LEN to Neutral from Positive.
 
Office Depot (NYSE:ODP): The retailer gets reduced to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.
 
Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC): The security-software stock, tumbling some 10.26% as we speak after firing its CEO Steve Bennett, is now Neutral from Buy at UBS.
 
Walgreen (NYSE:WAG): Cantor Fitzgerald cuts the company to Sell from Hold, citing a steep share price.
 
Disclosure: Minyanville Media has a business relationship with E*Trade.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: No Need for Any Microsoft Envy at Apple

Stock Upgrades: Goldman Sachs Finds Love in an Elevator
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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