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Stock Downgrades: W.R. Grace Isn't Amazing


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

Even as the NYSE lit up Holly Berry, its annual festive spruce, Father Christmas did a disappearing act on Wall Street. Worse still, he told investors to go "elf yourself," with the small cap Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL:RUT) a particularly poor performer on a day the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) dropped for the first time in three sessions. General Motors (NYSE:GM) named Mary Barra, who has a degree in electrical engineering, as the car industry's first ever female CEO. This as Marissa Mayer, who majored in symbiotic systems and computer science, saw her Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) surge 3.47% to a six-year best. Ironic, then, that Mattel's (NASDAQ:MAT) Barbie - infamous for saying "Math class is tough!" -- is more popular than ever among six-year-old girls. Six-year-old boys had better not give their peers a peck on the hand; that's apparently sexual harassment. Fear not, however, for romance can't be killed - parent InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IACI) jumped 2.90% to an all-time high. Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), up 5.80% to a post-IPO peak, performed even better, but Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB), which plunged 3.74% in posting the S&P 500′s (INDEXSP:.INX) poorest performance, has reason to curse the pithy platform.

In terms of economic events that may move US markets today, analysts expect November's budget deficit to widen at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Regarding specific stocks, Costco (NASDAQ:COST), Inditex (MCE:ITX), Joy Global (NYSE:JOY), Men's Wearhouse (NYSE:MW), and Nordson (NASDAQ:NDSN) are all due to release results. And Hilton Worldwide (NYSE:HLT) prices its initial public offering.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AVNR): Mizuho moves Avanir Pharmaceuticals stock to Neutral from Buy. Its price objective on Avanir Pharmaceuticals is also slashed, by $7 to $5, after disappointing Phase II MS (Multiple Sclerosis) pain data.

MeadWestvaco (NYSE:MWV): Paper and packaging powerhouse MeadWestvaco sees its stock moved to Underperform from Market Perform by BMO Capital.

W.R. Grace (NYSE:GRA): Specialty chemical company W.R. Grace is now Neutral from Outperform at Robert W. Baird due to valuation concerns. Its new target price on W.R. Grace is $110. The analyst advises waiting for a more attractive entry point before adding to positions.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: 3M Gets Out of a Sticky Situation and New Stock Coverage: Avis Learns the Hard Way That Love Hertz)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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