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Stock Downgrades: Ford Hits a Pothole

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

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An imminent Congressional agreement to kick the can on the debt ceiling sent shares up for a third straight session, and exerted a predictably beneficial effect on both Manchester United (MANU) and Beacon Roofing Supply (BECN), which rose a respective 7.55% and 1.18% to each end at all time peaks. Unfortunately Coca-Cola (KO), whose 1.51% slide made it the Dow's (^DJI) poorest performer, couldn't make it a hat trick.

Signature Bank (SBNY), up 0.98%, similarly hit an historic high, fittingly for this is the birthday of John Hancock. (Who will, however, be turning in his grave at the penmanship of our proposed Treasury Secretary.) Research In Motion (RIMM) rose 13.01% after upbeat comments from its CEO in a German newspaper. How Financial Times publisher Pearson (PSO) could have used the scoop after plunging 4.31%. Its iconic salmon colored pages are now apparently good only for wrapping fish and chips.

No top-tier economic data due today, but Hump Day of peak earnings week is here.

Abbott Laboratories (ABT), Amgen (AMGN), Apple (AAPL), F5 Networks (FFIV), General Dynamics (GD), McDonald's (MCD), Netflix (NFLX), Novartis (NVS), SanDisk (SNDK), SAP AG (SAP), Siemens (SI), Unilever (UN), United Technologies (UTX), US Airways (LCC), and WellPoint (WLP) are all due to report results.

BNP Paribas (PINK:BNPQY): A Hold-from-Buy Deutsche Bank downgrade is sending shares of the French financial firm lower in today's European trading.

DuPont (DD): The Dow (^DJI) component is cut to Underperform from Outperform at Crédit Agricole amid increased concerns regarding capital allocation.

Elli Mae (ELLI): ELLI is lowered to Perform from Outperform by William Blair.

Ford Motor (NYSE:F) The car company gets cut to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank due to valuation issues, although its price objective actually increases to $15 from $13.

Grupo Aeroportuario Del Sureste (ASR): The Mexican airport operator is moved to Equal-Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Hartford Financial (HIG): FBR Capital cuts the insurance outfit to Perform from Outperform with a $25 price target due to a sense that the stock has recently run ahead of itself.

IAMGOLD (IAG): IAG gets taken to Market Perform by BMO Capital.

Joy Global (JOY): Shares are now Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna, which is troubled by reduced visibility into the cyclical rebound in global mining capital spending. The target is also taken down, to $73 from $84.

TD Ameritrade (AMTD): Keefe Bruyette downgrades the discount broker to Perform from Outperform.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Stock Up on Costco and New Stock Coverage: Cree Is About to Light It Up.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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