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Stock Downgrades: Clorox Taken to the Cleaners

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

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Yellen or Kohn? Twenty-four hours after yelling that the taper tease was all a con trick, markets mostly retreated to the sounds of silence on Thursday. Shares slipped slightly and traded in a tight range. A bad week for Larrys continued as Oracle's (NYSE:ORCL) Mr. Ellison was accused of going AWOL. As for Mr. Summers, his nemesis (nemesii?) the Winklevii must despise Mark Zuckerberg even more after a broker boost sent surging Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) up 1.66% to a fresh peak. The twins would be well advised to Take-Two (NASDAQ:TTWO) and call us in the morning after that stock gained 1.34% on the fifth iteration of its Grand Theft Auto. Their shares are certainly more of a steal than Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA), up another 7.04% to an historic best.

No top-tier economic data due today - a singularly awful one in stock market history - but Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) releases results. It's also a "quadruple witching" Friday, and they rarely lack action. (This phenomenon is not to be mistaken for the quartet of Fed officials addressing audiences this afternoon, in the form of Esther George (12:30 p.m. Eastern), Daniel Tarullo (12:40 p.m.), James Bullard (12:55 p.m.), and Narayana Kocherlakota (1:45 p.m.)

American Public Education (NASDAQ:APEI): Stifel slashes the stock to Hold from Buy.

ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT): The steel name is reduced to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital Markets.

Cardinal Financial (NASDAQ:CFNL): Concerned about the company's slower mortgage banking originations, FBR Capital cuts it to Perform from Outperform.

Clorox (NYSE:CLX): Credit Suisse moves the household cleaning name to Underperform from Neutral.

Insulet (NASDAQ:PODD): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities.

Level 3 (NYSE:LVLT): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Equal-Weight from Overweight.

NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP): The equity is lower this morning on a downgrade to Underperform from Perform by William Blair.

Prudential (NYSE:PRU): Goldman Sachs pulls the insurance outfit from its list of Conviction Buys.

SolarWinds (NYSE:SWI): Shares get slashed to Sell from Neutral at Goldman.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Ryanair Starts the Party Way Before Arriving in Ibiza and New Stock Coverage: London Whale Still a Killer for JPMorgan.)

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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