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Stock Downgrades: Caesars Entertainment Stabbed in the Back

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

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The squid and the whale kept equities above water, with "Great vampire squid" Goldman Sachs (GS) raising its S&P 500 (^GSPC) target and the "London Whale" debacle proving insufficient to oust JPMorgan's (JPM) Jamie Dimon from his job. (At the latter's contentious annual meeting, its director Ellen Futter received a scant 53.1% backing, comfortably the lowest of all 11 directors. Since Ellen also moonlights as president of the American Museum of Natural History, she really should have seen whales-London or otherwise-coming.)

Similarly sinking to the murky depths was cruise company Carnival Corp (CCL), which fell 4.28% in its worst day of the year. The beleaguered ocean liner outfit frequently waives the rules but London's FTSE 1000 index hit its highest level since last century, back when Britannia ruled the waves.

This morning in economics, analysts expect an uptick in April existing home sales at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Fed head Ben Bernanke testifies before Capitol Hill today, and the Federal Open Market Committee releases minutes to its May 1 meeting at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

In earnings action, American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), Eaton Vance (EV), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), L Brands (LTD), Lowe's Companies (LOW), PetSmart (PETM), SeaWorld (SEAS), Staples (SPLS), Synopsys (SNPS), Target (TGT), and Toll Brothers (TOL) are all due to report results.

Amphenol (APH): A plump price:earnings multiple sees the tech stock taken to Hold from Buy at Stifel.

BlackBerry (BBRY): Shares are downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BNP Paribas.

Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR): Citing an excessive valuation, Credit Suisse cuts the casino company to Neutral from Outperform.

Carnival (CCL): A second downgrade in as many days for the troubled cruise company, today taken to Neutral from Overweight at HSBC Securities. The bank is troubled by poor earnings guidance, among other issues. Shares are slipping further in London as a result this morning.

Comerica (CMA): Oppenheimer reduces its investment opinion to Underperform from Perform.

Commerzbank (OTCMKTS:CRZBD): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Nomura.

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

EQT Corporation (EQT): Société Générale slashes the stock to Hold from Buy.

iGATE (IGTE): IGTE gets downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer, which says the firm's departing CEO will be difficult to replace.

InterXion (INXN): The Internet information outfit gets taken to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs.

Joy Global (JOY): The maker of earth moving equipment is moved to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays.

Martin Marietta Materials (MLM): Longbow moves MLM to Neutral from Buy.

Newcastle Investment (NCT): Keefe Bruyette lowers its rating to Market Perform from Outperform.

Rosetta Resources (ROSE): ROSE gets reduced to Neutral from Outperform at Cowen, whose price objective is $50. The current stock price already adequately reflects the company's Permain-related vertical drilling potential, in its view.

Ryland Group (RYL): The homebuilder is taken to Hold from Buy at KeyBanc.

SodaStream (SODA): Shares are now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan, sending it lower as I write.

Warner Chilcott (WCRX): The stock, no longer trading on fundamentals following a buyout bid, is lowered to Market Perform from Outperform at Leerink Swann.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Dice Holdings Is on a Roll and New Stock Coverage: Pepsi Poised to Pop.)

Disclosure: Minyanville Studios, a division of Minyanville Media, has a business relationship with BlackBerry.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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