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Stock Downgrades: Fast Money Can't Flee Sprint Quick Enough

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

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Stocks fell for a fourth session in five to start 2014 after investors furiously debated the implications of an eagerly awaited announcement at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. But enough about the baseball Hall of Fame. The corridors of power in the Federal Reserve building in Washington were a Wall of Shame for Wall Street, with the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) and S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) each ending off as equities reacted negatively to the latest FOMC meeting minutes. Across the Atlantic, the European Union's statistics agency announced unemployment held steady at a horribly high 12.1%, although math ain't its strong suit, so that may not be the end of the matter. JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) is so scared of arithmetic that it failed to include a single figure in saying only it was "pleased with its performance" over the holidays. Investors weren't, and sent the stock tumbling 10.01%. Ford (NYSE:F) jumped 1.04% after its CEO Alan Mulally said he would shun overtures at Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), which dropped a Dow-worst 1.79%. The AP revealed the news in a tweet, one which was more accurate than its April announcement on the same medium, that the White House had been bombed. Say "cheese": Eastman Kodak (NYSE:KODK) rose 2.48% to a post-reorganization peak after ringing the opening bell. This, as Velveeta king Kraft Foods (NASDAQ:KRFT) scored a broker boost and Chuck E. Cheese parent CEC Entertainment (NYSE:CEC) surged 14.40% to an all-time high. Talk about de Gaulle of Charles, who once said of France, "How can anyone govern a nation that has 246 different kinds of cheese?" I guess he never thought to pair (trade) it with the world's largest winemaker. Pity, for Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ) just jumped 9.55%.

There aren't any top-tier economic events to move US markets today. Regarding specific stocks, Alcoa (NYSE:AA) unofficially ushers in fourth-quarter earnings season when it announces after the closing bell, with Acuity Brands (NYSE:AYI), PriceSmart (NASDAQ:PSMT), Supervalu (NYSE:SVU), Texas Industries (NYSE:TXI), and Synnex (NYSE:SNX) also due to release results.

Agrium (NYSE:AGU): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers the fertilizer firm to Neutral from Buy.

Allegiant Travel (NASDAQ:ALGT): Shares are taken to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH): The stock is slumping today after getting downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank. ARM Holdings is a key chip supplier to Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY): Bed Bath & Beyond stock, nosediving 9.89% before the bell, is now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM): Citigroup cuts oil outfit Exxon Mobil, a key Dow component, to Neutral from Buy.

Fast Food: Morgan Stanley moves Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD) stock to Underweight from Overweight. Its price objective on Buffalo Wild Wings is taken to $143. Meanwhile, Taco Hut owner Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM) gets moved to Equal Weight from Overweight.

First Niagara (NASDAQ:FNFG): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers its fellow financial firm an unusual 180 degrees, to Underperform from Buy.

Global Payment (NYSE:GPN): GPN gets downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo.

MeadWestvaco (NYSE:MWV): Shares are now Neutral from Outperform at Robert W. Baird amid limited upside potential.

Mondelez International (NASDAQ:MDLZ): The Oreo owner is now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Monsanto (NYSE:MON): MON is moved to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Novartis (NYSE:NVS): Jefferies cuts the pharmaceutical firm to Hold from Buy.

NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA): NVDA is now Hold from Buy at Canaccord Genuity.

Sprint (NYSE:S): Sprint stock, having already endured an utterly awful start to 2014, is today slashed to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank. Its amended price objective is $9.25.

United Natural Foods (NASDAQ:UNFI): Piper Jaffray cuts the company to Neutral from Overweight.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Go Long, CVS Caremark -- Very Long -- Take a Look at Their Receipts and Stock Upgrades: Johnson & Johnson Is All About the Benjamins)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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