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Stock Downgrades: No Dough at Panera Bread Co

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

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Not even Bubba's birthday could inspire equities to recapture a little of their 1990s irrational exuberance. (Given the apparently frightful financial state of his foundation, perhaps that's no surprise.) Indeed, as the Dow (^DJI) logged its first four-day losing streak all year, our former President was unable to feel your Pain Therapeutics (PTIE), which slid some 7.07%. At the risk of pushing Bill's buttons, his wife Hillary fared little better. Language translation stock Rosetta Stone (RST) lost 4.05% as Russia demanded a "reset." At least Mr. Gore, still bitter over being burdened with his boss's Monica mess in the 2000 election, could console himself by making an additional mint in Apple Inc. (AAPL), now up 12% in six sessions. To paraphrase Paul Simon today of all days, you can call him Al-Jazeera. And Dollar General (DG) rode a ratings increase to jump an S&P 500 (^GSPC)-best 3.09%. A penny for the thoughts of that 99-year-old who just won a shopping spree at 99 Cent Only Stores.

No top-tier economic data due today, but corporate earnings are expected out of Analog Devices (ADI), Barnes & Noble (BKS), Best Buy (BBY), BHP Billiton (BHP), Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS), Glencore Xstrata (GLNCY), Home Depot (HD), Intuit (INTU), JC Penney (JCP), La-Z-Boy (LZB), Medtronic (MDT), and TJX Companies (TJX).

Apple (AAPL): The tech stock, a stellar performer thus far in August, gets downgraded to Buy from Strong Buy at S&P Capital. Valuation issues loom large, with shares starting to approach the broker's $550 price objective.

ArcelorMittal (MT): Morgan Stanley moves the steel stock owned by Europe's richest man to Underweight from Equal-Weight.

Bravio Brio (BBRG): The restaurant owner is reduced to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF): The iron ore outfit get cut to Hold from Buy by BB&T Capital.

Edwards Group (EVAC): Shares are now Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray.

LightInTheBox (LITB): LITB gets lowered to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Oil Services: UBS gives Neutral-from-Buy downgrades to Diamond Offshore (DO), Ensco (ESV), Noble Corporation (NE), and Transocean (RIG).

Panera Bread Co (PNRA): Jefferies cuts the company to Hold from Buy.

Riverbed Technology (RVBD): The troubled stock is falling a further 5% this morning after getting slashed to Sell from Hold by Deutsche Bank.

Royal Gold (RGLD): BB&T reduces the commodity company to Hold from Buy.

Target (TGT): The retailer is taken to Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna.

Wal-Mart (WMT): Susquehanna slashes the Dow (^DJI) component, which reported iffy earnings last week, to Neutral from Buy. Its price objective, previously $85, is now $79.

Weyerhaeuser (WY): The paper and packaging powerhouse gets lowered to Buy from Neutral at Longbow.

Xcel Energy (XEL): The stock is moved to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Facebook Inc Finally Making Its Mark and Stock Upgrades: Urban Outfitters, Inc. Moves Uptown.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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