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Stock Downgrades: Lights Out for Phillip Morris

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

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Stocks, now down for three straight sessions, endured another hard landing. Led, appropriately enough, by Boeing (NYSE:BA), which dived a Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI)-worst 3.31% after a rating reduction. (And this on the day its 747 Dreamlifter airplane ended up at the wrong airport in Wichita. Truly, Toto, we ain't in Kansas any more.) Despite the best efforts of the omnipresent Boeing - $1.12 million in precious metal bars were recently found stashed in a 737's toilet - bullion fell to a fresh four-month low. Rather than venture into its on-board restrooms, you would be better advised to simply buckle up and stay put if you can. Especially on a day Zodiac Aerospace (EPA:ZC), the world's largest maker of airline seats, gained 3.1% to a two-decade high. Cigarette stock Philip Morris (NYSE:PM), just downgraded, lost 2.37% on a difficult day for US markets. This after it emerged that there are health benefits to stopping smoking even in your sixties. Bill Clinton, who famously did not inhale in the '60s, could not be reached for comment, but the Bills came due all over Wall Street. Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Mr. Gates saw his stock gain 0.39% to best all blue chips. And, much to the ire of Ackman, Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) surged 6.47% after Bill Stiritz boosted his holding in the nutritional supplements name.

In terms of economic events that may move US markets this morning, analysts expect a fall in November's Philadelphia Fed Index at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Regarding specific stocks, Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF), Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR) Gap Inc (NYSE:GPS), GameStop (NYSE:GME), Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU), Pandora (NASDAQ:P), Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST), Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD), Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK), Target (NYSE:TGT), and The Fresh Market (NASDAQ:TFM) are all due to report quarterly results.

American Railcar Industries (NASDAQ:ARII): Raymond James reduces its rating to Underperform from Outperform.

Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED): The Big Apple-based electric utility outfit may run out of juice after getting downgraded to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies.

J.M. Smucker (NYSE:SJM): The problems for peanut butter powerhouse J.M. Smucker, which slumped an S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX)-worst 6.54% on Wednesday, may not be over in a Jif. J.M. Smucker remains in a real jam after getting moved to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan this morning.

Michelin (OTCMKTS:MGDDY): HSBC Securities takes the French tire titan to Neutral from Overweight.

National Fuel Gas (NYSE:NFG): Shares are now Perform from Outperform at Raymond James.

Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM): More bad news for the Marlboro Man. Philip Morris International, which tumbled 2.37% yesterday, gets slashed to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs. Philip Morris International is also pulled from the financial firm's Conviction Buy list. The bank's concerns include recently-lowered earnings guidance from the tobacco titan.

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM): Qualcomm is cut to Outperform from Strong Buy at Raymond James. Chipmaker Qualcomm just held its annual analyst day.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Facebook Looks Mighty Handsome and Stock Upgrades: Green Mountain Far From Over the Hill)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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