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Stock Downgrades: Hospital Stocks Back in Emergency Ward

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

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Making money was so effortlessly easy on Tuesday even Uncle Sam managed it. Stocks reached new highs in a session marked by several standouts. JC Penney (JCP) plunged 12.22% after naming a new big cheese and the Mouse House of Walt Disney (DIS) hit the highest level in its history. (Meanwhile in Argentina, they smell a rat, doubtless much to the delight of the dearly departed Margaret Thatcher, who rarely saw eye to eye with the country.) St. Jude Medical (STJ), which makes replacement hips and knees, plunged 1.74% after incurring its second downgrade in as many days. Increasingly arthritic baby boomers looking for love would still be advised to purchase the company's products, however.

Today at 2:00 p.m. Eastern the Federal Open Market Committee releases minutes to its March 19-20 meeting. In earnings activity, Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), Carmax (KMX), Constellation Brands (STZ), Family Dollar (FDO), Fastenal (FAST), and Ruby Tuesday (RT) are all due to report results.

Aéropostale (ARO): The clothing company is slashed to Sell from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

Agrium (AGU): Piper Jaffray reduces its rating to Neutral from Overweight.

Expeditors International of Washington (EXPD): The stock gets downgraded to Buy from Conviction Buy at Goldman Sachs.

France Telecom (FTE): Shares are slumping this morning on the back of a Conviction Sell-from-Sell slash at Goldman.

Hospital Stocks: Deutsche Bank cuts Community Health Systems (NYSE:CYH), Health Management Associates (NYSE:HMA), and Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC), all taken to Hold from Buy.

Michelin (PINK:MGDDY) Credit Suisse cuts the tire titan to Neutral from Outperform, sending it down about 1.05% in today's European trading.

ONEOK Partners (OKS): The limited partnership is lowered to Sell from Neutral.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Churchill Downs Would Make Maggie Proud and Stock Upgrades: American Eagle Can Fly High.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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