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Stock Downgrades: Not Even John Stamos Can Save Danone


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

This has historically been the single worst month in equities, and superstitious sorts will note with trepidation that a film about the Fed is due to open on Friday the 13th. Yet so far, "see you in September" has proved profitable in equities. Shares advanced in a holiday-shortened week, paced by a 1.95% increase in the tech-heavy Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC). It suffered six more minutes of angst but for arguably its most famous member, it was all about lucky 7s. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) advanced 2.3% after an analyst assigned a $777 price objective and a 77-year-old senator played poker on his iPhone during a war debate. Markets moved higher despite the labor force participation rate dropping to 63.2%, its lowest level since 1978. Back then Donna Summer, not Larry Summers, dominated the day. That truly was an unimaginably distant age, when cassette tapes were all the rage and the humble wristwatch was the height of technology.

Today in economics, analysts call for a contraction in July consumer credit at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE:HOV), Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ:PANW), Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack (NYSE:PBY), and PVH Corp (NYSE:PVH) are all due to report results.

Apache Corporation (NYSE:APA): ISI Group gives the energy company a downgrade to Buy from Strong Buy.

Community Health Systems (NYSE:CYH): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ:FITB): Raymond James reduces its rating to Market Perform from Outperform.

HollyFrontier (NYSE:HFC): The stock is moved to Equal-Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Multimedia Games (NASDAQ:MGAM): MGAM is taken to Neutral from Buy at Janney.

Danone (OTCMKTS:DANOY): The French food firm, best known for its yogurt brands including Activia and the John Stamos-endorsed Greek Oikos, is now Neutral from Outperform at BNP Paribas.

Halliburton (NYSE:HAL): Wells Fargo moves the oil services stock to Market Perform from Outperform.

Heineken (OTCMKTS:HEINY): The Dutch brewing giant gets downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Hercules Technology (NYSE:HTGC): Keefe Bruyette cuts the mortgage investment name to Perform from Outperform.

IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IACI): The owner of gets moved to Hold from Buy at Canaccord Genuity.

Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX): Citing an excessive valuation with shares up 32.24% in the past year, Argus cuts its rating on the energy company to Hold from Buy.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Downward Dog Days Are Over at Lululemon and Stock Upgrades: Pucker Up to Estee Lauder.)
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