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Stock Downgrades: Hope and Change? Ain't Seeing It


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

If yesterday's trading action was an antidote to insomnia - S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) shares edged up all of 2.34 points - compared to the panic that engulfed Wall Street exactly 84 years earlier on the original "Black Monday," boring was brilliant. An infinitesimal 0.13% increase was still enough to take the benchmark index to another lifetime high. They say "it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good" but, with Britain buffeted by the St. Jude Storm, St. Jude Medical (NYSE:STJ) gained 0.63% to a historic peak. (Superstitious investors of a certain age will, however, take ominous note that this was England's most inclement weather since an October 1987 hurricane that spookily presaged another Black Monday by a matter of hours.) In Spain, where they know all about taking Quixotic tilts at windmills, wind power pioneer Iberdrola (OTCMKTS:IBDRY) rose 1.05% on a broker boost, and received an additional analyst upgrade this morning. Elsewhere, "neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor the winds of change" could keep a 73-year-old United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) driver from going accident-free for over half a century. Send that man some stock options, as his employer just increased 2.26% to a fresh best. The stork, if not the check, was in the mail for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), where toddlers are an increasingly important revenue source. Based on its iffy holiday sales outlook, however, the erstwhile tech titan may now have a great future behind it.

This morning the Federal Open Market Committee starts its two-day policy meeting in Washington, DC, with an interest rate announcement expected tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM), BP plc (NYSE:BP), Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD), Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB), Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD), LinkedIn (NASDAQ:LNKD), Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), UBS AG (NYSE:UBS), US Steel (NYSE:X), and Yelp Inc (NASDAQ:YELP) are all due to release results.

Banco Bilbao (NYSE:BBVA): Credit Suisse cuts the Spanish bank to Neutral from Outperform. (NASDAQ:CYOU): The Beijing-based online gaming outfit, fresh from Monday's 20.19% tumble, is moved to Hold from Buy at Brean Capital this morning.

Corporate Office Properties Trust (NYSE:OFC): Stifel slashes the stock to Hold from Buy.

Goldcorp (NYSE:GG): The commodity company is now Neutral from Overweight at HSBC Securities.

Key Energy (NYSE:KEY): KEY is slashed to Sell from Hold with a $6 price objective at Wunderlich, which worries about seasonality issues and an oversupply in the US.

Michael Kors (NYSE:KORS): The fashion firm, set to be added to the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) this week, is taken to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo. Valuation issues - shares have surged 40.21% in the past year - are cited.

Sanmina (NASDAQ:SANM): The electronics outfit is now Hold from Buy at Needham due to an uncertain earnings outlook.

Sunstone Hotel Investors (NYSE:SHO): ISI Group gives the equity a Neutral-from-Buy downgrade.

UNITIL Corporation (NYSE:UTL): Shares are reduced to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Volcano Corporation (NASDAQ:VOLC): Canaccord Genuity gives the medical appliance and equipment outfit a Hold-from-Buy downgrade.

Wausau Paper (NYSE:WPP): Troubled by "deflating earnings" at the packaging powerhouse, Deutsche Bank downgrades it to Hold from Buy.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Halloween Almost Here, Potbelly Serves Some Wicked 'Wichcraft and Stock Upgrades: Can I, Asks Apple? Yes Icahn!)
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