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Stock Downgrades: Apollo Investment an Appalling Investment?

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

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Stocks slumped after a financial deal worked out in the wee hours of the morning received a tepid response from investors. But enough about our first budget in almost half a decade. It was minuscule Cyprus that again dominated the day, taking markets down with it.

A new study showed the "insourcing" trend picking up momentum, which will be news to outsourcer StarTek (SRT), which surged 9.68% to finish at a fresh 52-week peak. Dell Inc. (DELL) gained 2.62% after 66-year-old Stephen Schwarzman and 77-year-old Carl Icahn expressed an interest in its old school PCs, but Yahoo (YHOO) demonstrated that the future ultimately belongs to 17-year-olds.

And with red crabs on the march in Christmas Island, Red Lobster owner Darden Restaurants (DRI) rode an analyst upgrade to rise 1.53%.

After a quiet couple of sessions the pace of economic data picks up with two releases due at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, namely February new home sales and consumer confidence for March. On the corporate front, Bank of China (PINK:BACHY), Children's Place (PLCE), GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes (GOL), Mattress Firm Holding (MFRM), Neogen (NEOG), and Turquoise Hill (TRQ) are all due to report results.

Anglo American (PINK:AAUKY): The commodity company, which owns an 85% stake in South African diamond giant De Beers, gets downgraded to Underperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital.

Apollo Investment (NASDAQ:AINV): Wells Fargo reduces its recommendation to Underperform from Market Perform, sending shares down 1.64% this morning.

Ashland (ASH): Longbow lowers the chemical name to Neutral from Buy.

Cabot Oil & Gas (COG): The stock is taken to Hold from Buy at Stifel.

Gordmans Stores (GMAN): Shares, nose-diving 9.28% ahead of the open, are now Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray. A troubling mix of merchandising problems and inventory issues were revealed in the company's latest earnings release.

Kraton Performance Polymers (KRA): Oppenheimer cuts the company to Perform from Outperform.

Magellan Health Services (MGLN): Raymond James moves MGLN to Market Perform from Outperform.

MeadWestvaco (MWV): The paper and packaging powerhouse is now Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Pennant Investment (PNNT): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo.

Southwestern Energy (SWN): Stifel slashes the stock to Hold from Buy.

Telecom Italia (TI): Shares are currently falling about 5% in today's Milan trading on an Underperform-from-Neutral ratings reduction by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and an Equal Weight from Overweight downgrade at Barclays.

Two Harbors Investment (TWO): TWO is taken to Neutral from Buy with a fresh target price of $14.75 at Compass Point, which says multiple expansion opportunities appear limited in light of a full current valuation.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Sibanye Gold Set to Glitter and Stock Upgrades: Electronic Arts Isn't Playing Around.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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