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Stock Downgrades: Coach Handbag Contains No Cash

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

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This being Financial Literacy Month and all, let's start with some sequencing. Shares slid as the Dow (^DJI), down 123 at the day's depths, fell after initial unemployment rose for a fourth time in five weeks, an event that sent the broader market to six week lows.

Too depressing? Well for English rather than math types, making money was literally as easy as ABC, with AmerisourceBergen Corp. (ABC) advancing 0.69% to the highest level in its history. Also ending at an historic best was PepsiCo (PEP), which surged 3.04%. One wonders whether Beyonce - sorry, Beyoncé - will now return the company's $50 million and move to Cuba permanently.

Elsewhere, Italy failed to elect a president at the first attempt but still, there really is no place like Rome. The gladiators of American Express (AXP) rose 1.42% to best all blue chips. And this morning, MAXIMUS (MMS) scored an analyst upgrade. An event that will surely have Russell Crowe-ing.

No top-tier economic data due today, but a frenzied first full week of quarterly earnings announcements concludes with Baker Hughes (BHI), General Electric (GE), Honeywell (HON), Kimberly-Clark (KMB), McDonald's (MCD), Schlumberger (SLB), State Street (STT), Under Armour (UA), and Indian outsourcer Wipro (WIT) all expected to release results.

Albemarle (ALB): Suntrust Robinson Humphrey cuts the specialty chemicals company to Neutral from Buy.

Coach (NYSE:COH): The stock is now Neutral from Outperform at Robert W. Baird, which trims its price target to $59 from $61. Its annual handbag survey suggests continued market share pressure. The stock is, as a result, 1.2% lower before the bell.

Cott (COT): COT is cut to Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Fairchild Semiconductor (FCS): Shares are downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Magnum Hunter (MHR): The name is now Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Suez Environment (PINK:SZEVY): Shares are downgraded to Equal-Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Texas Instruments (TXN): The stock is moved to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James.

Varian Medical (VAR): Shares are downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup.

VeriFone (PAY): The stock is now Neutral from Buy with a $20 target at Compass Point, which says a turnaround is not happening as quickly as it hoped.

Volvo (PINK:VOLVY): Shares are downgraded to Equal-Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Wolverine (WWW): The stock is now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Ameriprise Turns Tommy Lee Jones Into Fat Cat and Stock Upgrades: E*TRADE Babies Set for Mother of All Rallies?)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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