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Stock Downgrades: From 42nd Street, Pfizer Inc. Fumes at Wall Street

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

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Ben Bernanke's upbeat comments by the banks of the Charles River resulted in a rising tide for equities even if, elsewhere in the Bay State, banks may soon be in serious trouble. The Dow (^DJI) rose to its twenty-fourth record of 2013 following the Fed chief's "highly accommodative" comments in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It thus appears that Business Week's infamous "Death of Equities" cover story from 1979 has not come to pass, although its successor publication still does a fine line in front pages.

Amid the mother of all market rallies, Destination Maternity (DEST) jumped 4.47% to an all-time best and Old Father Time didn't fare too badly either, with 90-year-old Sumner Redstone's Viacom (VIAB) attaining a fresh 52-week peak. Microsoft (MSFT) rose 2.84% and Iron Mountain (IRM), in whose "Corbis Cave" Bill Gates hid out the past decade while his stock was dead money, surged 5.30%. Completing the tech titan's holy trinity halo effect, an upgraded Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) advanced 11.81% to top the S&P 500 (^GSPC) on high hopes it will see an Xbox One game console boost from the software stock.

Today in economics, analysts forecast that the University of Michigan's first take on July consumer confidence will tick up from the final figure for June at 9:55 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, announcements are expected out of Infosys (INFY), JP Morgan (JPM), Ocean Power Technologies (OPTT), and Wells Fargo (WFC).

Alaska Air (ALK): The airline stock gets moved to Equal-Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Alliance Resource Partners (ARLP): Deutsche Bank lowers the limited partnership to Hold from Buy.

Apollo Group (APOL): Barclays lowers the education company to Equal Weight from Overweight. Perhaps what comes around really does go around, however, for…

Barclays (BCS): Barclays is itself downgraded to Reduce from Neutral at Numis.

Ceres Inc (CERE): Agricultural chemicals company CERE, whose shares are nose-diving 19.4% as I write, is now Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray.

Discovery Communications (DISCA): With the stock now sporting a premium valuation after trading to historic highs, B. Riley & Co. reduces its recommendation to Neutral from Buy.

Drug Stocks: Pfizer (PFE), the key Dow (^DJI) with world headquarters in the heart of midtown Manhattan's 42nd Street, is cut to Hold from Buy at Jefferies. The investment outfit inflicts an identical ratings reduction on rival Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY).

Kroger (KR): Goldman Sachs slashes the supermarket stock to Sell from Neutral.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB): The fast food firm is moved to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital Markets.

SodaStream (SODA): Shares are taken to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer, whose concerns include the launch of its new Source machine.

Target (TGT): Deutsche Bank reduces the retailer to Hold from Buy.

Texas Roadhouse (TXRH): TXRH is taken to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

Triple-S Management (GTS): Health insurance outfit GTS gets downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

VMware (VMW): The tech stock is now Equal Weight from Overweight at Evercore.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Hormel Foods Corporation Will Make You Like Spamalot and New Stock Coverage: OpenTable Inc Told to Sit in the Corner.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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