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Stock Downgrades: D.R. Horton Hears a Boo

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

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The name "Assad" means "lion" in Arabic, and Syria, in common with almost all of its neighbors, is a pretend country carved out with catastrophic consequences by European diplomats at a desk ninety-odd years ago. Thus it seems somehow fitting that stocks should suddenly put on a passable imitation of the Roaring Twenties, even as storm clouds continue to gather over Damascus. The S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) rose for a fifth straight session to start September, historically a singularly awful month in equities. With war in the air, Colonel Sanders lost a bloody battle with General Tso as KFC owner Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM) said August same-store sales in China fell tumbled 10%. The fast food firm still saw its stock surge 2.69%; hey, it was his birthday, after all.

For those who prefer healthier fare to fried chicken, it was a fine time for cult companies named after fruits. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) advanced another 1.60% on iPhone anticipation, and Lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU) jumped 2.48% on a broker boost. Its founder is infamous for naming the company to torture the Japanese with the letter "l," but Tokyo -- just awarded the Olympics and having announced big jump in its GDP -- had the last laugh. Duane Reade owner Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD), whose sturdy plastic offerings are a must-have item on the streets of Manhattan rose 2.58%. Elsewhere LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (OTCMKTS:LVMUY), whose Hermès bag ladies tend more toward the $10,000 Birkin type, ended 2.02% higher on an analyst upgrade.

No top-tier economic data due today, but Restoration Hardware (NYSE:RH) and Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN) are each expected to announce earnings.

Anglo American Platinum (OTCMKTS:AGPPY): The commodity company is cut to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Calix Networks (NYSE:CALX): Goldman Sachs slashes the communication equipment stock to Sell from Neutral.

Dollar General (NYSE:DG): Barclays downgrades the discount retailer to Equal Weight from Overweight primarily due to profit margin concerns. Shares are trading lower today as a result.

D.R. Horton, Inc. (NYSE:DHI): Hopefully with a hat tip to Dr. Seuss, Credit Suisse cuts the homebuilder to Neutral from Outperform after yesterday's 6.52% surge.

First Horizon (NYSE:FHN): The regional bank is reduced to Hold from Buy with Wunderlich due to fixed income issues, among other headwinds. Its price objective, previously $13, is now $11.

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK): Shares of the giant British pharmaceutical firm are sharply lower in today's London trading after getting downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup. The bank opts to take profits after a strong recent run, and would instead put fresh money to work in Buy-rated Novartis (NYSE:NVS).

Global Cash Access Holdings (NYSE:GCA): Compass Point takes the equity to Neutral from Buy.

Hercules Technology (NYSE:HTGC): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo.

Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC): The energy name is now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Model N (NYSE:MODN): JPMorgan cuts the company to Neutral from Overweight.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (NASDAQ:RRGB): Wunderlich lowers the fast food firm to Hold from Buy with an amended target price of $70. Shares, having surged some 107.83% in a year, are now fully valued and due a breather, the bank believes.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: E*TRADE Babies Enjoy Mother of All Rallies and New Stock Coverage: Bank of Ireland Cries Into Its Guinness.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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