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Stock Downgrades: Dog Days Ahead at Caterpillar


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

US stocks continued their remorseless climb to new records and even Europe, which wearily back to work yesterday, saw it stock markets enjoy their single best session for four weeks. This despite an unemployment rate that, if you are under 25 in Athens, stands at a truly scary 58.4%. (And don't look to Monster (MWW) to assuage any fears, not after the online job board fell 3.51% to finish at a lifetime low.)

On this side of the Atlantic, there must be something in the water (or Jack Daniel's) in Louisville. Its Brown-Forman (BF.B) hit the highest level in its history, Churchill Downs (CHDN) made an equally impressive run for the roses in ending at a fresh 52-week peak, and hometown hero Humana (HUM) surged some 5.45%. All this and Jennifer Lawrence, too. Some cities have all the luck.

Today in economics, analysts expect a slight slippage in the Institute for Supply Management's services index at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the corporate front, ConAgra Foods (CAG) and Monsanto (MON) have each announced earnings this morning.

ADT Corporation (ADT): Morgan Stanley moves the home alarm outfit to Underweight from Equal-Weight.

Bank of the Ozarks (OZRK): Shares are downgraded to Hold from Buy with a $43 target price at Wunderlich, which now sees risk/reward as being more in balance at current lofty levels.

Boston Scientific (BSX): The medical device maker is now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Casey's General Stores (CASY): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch cuts the stock, a poor performer yesterday, to Neutral from Buy.

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT): The company, a key Dow (^DJI) component, is slumping 1.04% ahead of the open after being moved to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs.

Central European Media (CETV): The stock gets cut to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Charles River Laboratories (CRL): Shares are slashed to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup.

Cigna (CI): Citi moves the stock to Neutral from Buy.

Cubist Pharmaceuticals (CBST): Shares are cut to Sell from Hold at Cantor Fitzgerald, whose new price objective is $40.

Eaton Vance (EV): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch moves the money manager to Underperform from Neutral.

Delhaize Group (DEG): The Brussels-based grocery giant gets downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities, sending it sharply lower in today's European trading.

European Telecoms: France Télécom (FTE) (Sell from Neutral) and Telecom Italia (TI) (Sell from Buy) are both slumping overseas this morning on ratings reductions at UBS.

Gold Fields (GFI): Credit Suisse cuts the commodity company to Neutral from Outperform.

Great Plains Energy (GXP): GXP gets downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs.

Linear Technology (LLTC): Longbow lowers LLTC to Neutral from Buy.

TCF Financial (TCB): Troubled by a steep valuation amid slowing merger activity, Oppenheimer takes TCB to Perform from Outperform.

Tiffany (TIF): Shares are now Neutral from Overweight at Atlantic Equities.

Unum Group (UNM): The insurance outfit gets downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Utilities: Goldman gives Duke Energy (DUK) and Northeast Utilities (NU) Neutral-from-Buy downgrades.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Six Flags Is a Fine Place to Park Your Money and Stock Upgrades: Chipotle Mexican Grill Stock Set to Head North.)
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