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Stock Downgrades: Twitter Bitter About Another Case of the Mondays

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

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After a Hollywood ending to 2013 - quite literally, with Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) surging 297.6% to top the entire S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) last year - US stock markets were a sheep in wolf's clothing to start 2014. Make that Wolf's -- Martin Scorsese may be responsible for equities going out like lion and in like a lamb. After all, Jordan Belfort's very first day as a broker was "Black Monday" in 1987, the same day that saw screenwriter Terence Winter have his interview for a bond trading job at Merrill Lynch understandably cancelled. Will the movie be seen as this bull market's kiss of death? Certainly, pop culture is always one step behind the times. The cold-calling era depicted ended with the arrival of Internet operators like E*Trade (NASDAQ:ETFC), which jumped 119.44% last year and entered the new year similarly on fire. As America suffers through a deep freeze, Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Frozen beat out Leonardo & Co to best the box office. The Mouse House, meanwhile, warmed up to the tune of 2.4% to best all blue chips after a broker boost. Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) jumped 8.1% in topping the S&P 500 last week. Its stock, if not its icy airplanes, is red-hot.

The Senate reconvenes this morning for the first time since its leader Harry Reid was hospitalized for exhaustion in the chamber's final session of last year. (One wonders why, as he certainly wasn't overworked. Indeed the 58 bills passed by our do-nothing Congress in 2013 represented the fewest in its entire history.) Today the august institution returns from recess with a vote on Janet Yellen's nomination to head the Fed as its primary order of business at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. In terms of economic events that may move US markets today, improvements are expected in both factory orders for November 2013 and December 2013's Institute for Supply Management services index, each out at 10:00 a.m. Regarding specific stocks, expect earnings announcements from Calavo Growers (NASDAQ:CVGW), Park Electrochemical (NYSE:PKE), Sonic Corporation (NASDAQ:SONC), and Zep Inc.(NYSE:ZEP).

AFLAC (NYSE:AFL): Shares are now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXN): Goldman Sachs cuts the company to Neutral from Buy.

Alliant Energy (NYSE:LNT): The stock is moved to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL): This new year has only encompassed two trading sessions but already rating reductions are becoming old hat for Apple Inc. The stock, which slumped 3.4% last week, is today slashed to Sell from Hold at Standpoint Research.

CA Technologies (NASDAQ:CA): Shares are taken to Underweight from Equal Weight at Evercore

Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG): The stock is now Sell from Neutral at Goldman.

eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY): Morgan Stanley moves eBay Inc. stock to Equal Weight from Overweight.

Entergy (NYSE:ETR): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo.

First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR): Goldman Sachs gives the alternative energy outfit an unusual 180 degree (Sell-from-Buy) downgrade.

Hess Corp (NYSE:HES): Shares get moved to Neutral from Buy at Mizuho.

Hologic (NASDAQ:HOLX): The stock gets downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Host Hotels (NYSE:HST): HST is now Outperform from Top Pick with a $21 target at RBC Capital, which sees the risk:reward ratio as now being in better balance.

MetLife (NYSE:MET): MET is moved to Neutral from Buy at UBS.

PetSmart (NASDAQ:PETM): Shares are downgraded to Sell from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Sirona Dental Systems (NASDAQ:SIRO): JP Morgan moves the stock to Neutral from Overweight at JP Morgan.

Twitter (NYSE:TWTR): Twitter surged some 8.2% in four holiday-truncated trading sessions last week, but it tends not to like Mondays. This morning the stock is slipping ahead of the open after being moved to Underweight from Equal Weight with a $33 price objective at Morgan Stanley. Concerns include heightened competition in advertising.

Wendy's (NASDAQ: WEN): The fast food firm is now Neutral from Buy at Janney Capital.

Disclosure: Minyanville Media has a business relationship with E*Trade.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Amazon 'Sell' Rating Giving Jeff Bezos Kidney Stones and Stock Upgrades: Baby, It's Cold Outside, but SolarCity Shines)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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