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Stock Downgrades: Ctrip Told to Take a Hike

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

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For everyone apart from the Postal Service, which just lost another $1.9 billion and Aéropostale (ARO), downgraded this morning, the check is in the mail. Equities reached records in four days out of five, as investors finally - and this time they really mean it - bid goodbye to bonds. (Once more, with feeling.)

Stocks are partying to an extent not seen since late 1990s boom, when Bill Clinton felt your pain. (Alas Pain Therapeutics (PTIE), which plunged 40.6%, missed out on all the fun.) Amid a rising tide, Old Navy sales sent Gap Inc. (GPS) up an S&P 500-best (^GSPC) 5.62% on Friday and film fans donned boater hats to be "borne ceaselessly back to the past."

There must have been something in the literary water in 1925, the year F. Scott Fitzgerald penned The Great Gatsby. That October the incomparable financial writer Alan Abelson was born. His voice was sadly silenced last week, and Wall Street will not see his eloquent words and erudite wit again.

Today in economics, analysts expect March business inventories to tick up from February's pace at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, AngloGold Ashanti (AU), Cellcom Israel (CEL), China Yuchai International (CYD), Post Holdings (POST), Supernus Pharmaceutical (SUPN), Stratasys (SSYS), and Take Two Interactive (TTWO) are all due to release results.

AllianceBernstein (AB): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform by Keefe Bruyette.

Allot Communications (ALLT): Barclays lowers the firm to Equal Weight from Overweight.

Aéropostale (ARO): The clothing company is cut to Neutral from Outperform at Cowen.

AutoZone (AZO): Shares are now Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Carlyle (CG): The firm is cut to Neutral from Buy at UBS.

C.H. Robinson (CHRW): UBS takes the transportation name to Neutral from Buy.

Ctrip.com (NASDAQ:CTRP): Troubled by its steep valuation, Goldman Sachs takes the Chinese accommodation outfit to Neutral from Buy.

EV Energy (EVEP): Shares get taken to Hold from Buy with Wunderlich, whose price objective, previously $78, is now $54. Issues include concerns over the company's ability to monetize assorted properties related to Utica.

EZchip (EZCH): Barclays slashes the semiconductor stock to Equal Weight from Overweight.

HSBC Holdings (HBC): The banking giant is lower in today's London trading after getting slashed substantially, to Reduce from Buy, at Invested Securities. "After the stock's recent outperformance we see limited further upside," its analyst wrote in a note.

Invesco (IVZ): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Prudential (PRU): The insurance outfit is now Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Southwest Gas (SWX): Brean Capital cuts its rating to Hold from Buy with a price objective of $52 following the firm's first quarter results.

True Religion (TRLG): TRLG is taken to Hold from Buy at The Benchmark Company, with the stock no longer trading on fundamentals following an $835 million buyout bid.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Fairway Will Take You Far and Stock Upgrades: Corning Shatters Glass Ceiling.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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