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Stock Downgrades: US Steel Sinks Like Lead Balloon

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

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Where the freewheeling Fast Money and manic Mad Money would ordinarily occupy the CNBC schedule, yesterday the network gave its coveted time slots over to the antidote-to-insomnia that is Olympic curling. Most viewers were likely long asleep by then, however, after a desultory trading day that saw Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) advance all of 0.05% amid anemic trading volume. Investors opted to sit on the fence ahead of Fed chair Janet Yellen's appearance in the hot seat today. Raise your hand if you're sure, to quote an '80s icon? She will shortly do that, and yesterday Helen of Troy (NASDAQ:HELE), owner of the antiperspirant, surged 7.09% to hit a historic high. Bitcoin was banished, and dollar meals were off the menu at an unloved McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), which imploded 1.11%. Far safer to stick with Monopoly money as its owner Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS) advanced 4.53% to top the entire S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX). With the market correction apparently over, Corrections Corp. of America (NYSE:CXW) cratered 3.71% and Rocket Fuel (NASDAQ:FUEL) -- whose name brings to mind the most notorious newspaper correction ever -- jumped 8.16% on a broker boost. (Actually, make that the second most notorious newspaper correction ever.) And, what began with curling ends with curls. Rest in peace Shirley Temple, who got us through the Great Depression with exactly 56 of them.

Today in economics, analysts expect an uptick in December 2013 wholesale trade data at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Barclays (NYSE:BCS), TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP), and Western Union (NYSE:WU) all release results.

Annie's (NYSE:BNNY): Shares, tumbling 10.47% today, are now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse. Its target price gets taken to $36 from $54.

Apache (NYSE:APA): Credit Suisse moves the energy name to Neutral from Outperform.

Carnival (NYSE:CCL): The cruise company gets cut to Underperform from Hold.

Infoblox (NYSE:BLOX): Sterne Agee slashes the stock, imploding some 33.77% as we speak, to Neutral from Buy.

Lennar (NYSE:LEN): LEN is lowered to Outperform from Strong Buy at Raymond James

Post Properties (NYSE:PPS): Raymond James reduces its rating to Perform from Outperform.

Sohu.com (NASDAQ:SOHU): The Chinese Internet outfit gets moved to Underweight from Equal Weight with Morgan Stanley.

U.S. Steel (NYSE:X): Shares, falling 2.15% before the opening bell, are slashed to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup. Its price objective, previously $28, is now $23.

Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VLKAY): Goldman Sachs downgrades the German car giant to Neutral from Buy.

W.W. Grainger (NYSE:GWW): Shares are now Sell from Neutral, also at Goldman. The target is simultaneously trimmed by $18, to $232.

See also:

New Stock Coverage: Steal Her Heart With Pandora This Valentine's Day

Stock Upgrades: Bronx Boy Ralph Lauren Steals Brooklynite Janet Yellen's Thunder
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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