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Stock Downgrades: Atlas Shrugs at US Physical Therapy


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

Wall Street's long-delayed "Santa Claus" rally has finally begun; it was just waiting for the Three Wise Men to show up. On a day Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, and Paul Volcker celebrated the Fed's 100th birthday, equities got the party started, with US stock markets snapping out of their recent slump in impressive fashion. Indeed, further testifying to the fact that good news always arrives in threes, the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) ended up by triple digits. In this, the season of peace and goodwill, the Philadelphia defense index advanced 1.2%, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) - motto: "Don't be evil" - bought a builder of military robots, and stun gun manufacturer Taser International (NASDAQ:TASR) jumped 8.83% on a broker boost. Soccer side Manchester United (NYSE:MANU) fared less well, losing 3.62% after being bet against by a hedge fund heavy. How it could currently use the confidence of its ex player Cristiano Ronaldo, who just opened a museum in his honor. An Argentine superstar, who is Ronaldo's only real rival as the planet's best performer, makes big bucks by sponsoring Herbalife (NYSE:HLF). Hey, it's a Messi job but someone has to do it. Yesterday, to Bill Ackman's ire, its stock surged 9.43%.

The Federal Open Market Committee starts its final two-day monetary policy meeting of the year this morning. In terms of specific stocks that may move US markets, FactSet Research Systems (NYSE:FDS), Jabil Circuit (NYSE:JBL), Sanderson Farms (NASDAQ:SAFM), Verifone (NYSE:PAY), and Zoltek (NASDAQ:ZOLT) are all due to announce earnings.

Catamaran (NASDAQ:CTRX): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs, Its price objective, previously $61, gets lowered by $11.

Century Aluminum (NASDAQ:CENX): JP Morgan moves the stock to Underweight from Neutral.

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK): Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline sees its stock downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank. GlaxoSmithKline just announced it will stop a prior, and highly contentious, policy of paying doctors to promote its drugs.

Haemonetics (NYSE:HAE): Goldman slashes the stock to Sell from Neutral.

Public Storage (NYSE:PSA): Shares are moved to Underperform from Market Perform by BMO Capital Markets.

Quantum Fuel (NASDAQ:QTWW): Ascendiant Capital cuts the stock to a still-bullish Buy from Strong Buy.

Stonegate Mortgage (NYSE:SGM): SGM gets taken to Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette.

Twitter (NYSE:TWTR): Another day, another downgrade for Twitter stock. Today it is taken to Neutral from Overweight at Atlantic Equities. Interestingly, however, its target price is actually taken up, to $50 from $34. Shares are currently slipping further as a result of the analyst's action.

US Physical Therapy (NYSE:USPH): (Hat tip to a capitalist icon for today's title.) US Physical Therapy stock may itself need some chiropractic assistance after being moved to Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities. With shares up 26.03% in the past year, the broker sees further upside potential opportunity as limited.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Chinese Lottery Firm Your Ticket to Mega Millions? and Stock Upgrades: Hewlett-Packard Is a Better Bet Than Tottenham Hotspur)
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